Reflecting on Gold Gloves

Three Reds were nominated. Two won. One didn’t.

Second baseman Brandon Phillips snared his third Gold Glove within the last four years. First baseman Joey Votto joined the ranks of a winning one and with that, he created his own company. No Reds first baseman had previously received the honor. Votto is the first. Right fielder Jay Bruce was among the three finalists, but that honor went to Andre Ethier of the Dodgers.

In the aftermath which was ESPN2’s “presentation” of the awards, three things entered into my mind.

First is that of the voting process. I mentioned yesterday how this happens, but let’s quickly review. Managers and coaches from all of MLB’s teams vote. You cannot vote for your own player. That does make sense due to the fact they see their players every day and a certain bias is sure to enter into the picture.

What has always intrigued me (and this was spurred on by comments on Twitter as well as those I heard during the broadcast from both John Kruk and Barry Larkin) were references to the offensive season each player had. If any of these voting do have that slant, they need to discard that right now. It’s called the Gold Glove. There is a separate award for offensive performance and it’s called the Silver Slugger.

I know I voiced the previous point about using offense as a “credential” in my post from yesterday. I re-emphasize it only because throughout my 40+ years of being a baseball fan, I’ve heard it numerous times. You will hear it every year. Do you honestly think Derek Jeter won the AL shortstop Gold Glove last year based on his defense? Many would say it was due to his bat and/or a lifetime achievement type of thing. And that needs to go, too.

Does this process need an overhaul? Not sure there’s really a better way to do it. In all honesty, not sure it would matter. On any platform where voting is used, there will be “snubs”. There will be unrest and angst among one team’s fan base because they feel their guy got slighted. It is the nature of the beast. I’ll tap into this a little more during my third point.

And if you’re thinking let the fans have a say, I would completely disagree. What I’m about to say does not apply to all fans, but it does apply to some…and you might well be aware of who you are.

Whatever the voting is for, if the fans are brought in as part of the voting, the process becomes saturated with popularity votes and less about a player’s performance. I’m not totally against this principle when it comes to the All-Star Game. MLB states this game is for the fans, so I can let go of that a little easier. And I won’t get going on that whole home field thing either. I personally believe those that have performed well deserve the honor of receiving my vote. There are many that subscribe to the same belief as I do.

Now I’ll step down from my small soapbox…

The second point really doesn’t have as long of an explanation as my first. With the hardware going to BP and Votto, their price, stock, value, however you ant to look at it, just went up. Despite the “flaws” there are within the voting process, it’s still a honor in which players can utilize in contract talks and arbitration hearings (even though neither are arb guys). Many players have a clause in their contracts where they receive a bonus for receiving such an honor.

Yes, Joey and BP got just a tad more expensive. With Phillips and the Reds still not coming to any type of extension (And Phillips did have his option picked up), you can bet your bottom dollar their agents will use such trinkets to get a little more dough for their clients.

Finally, and this might be the one that created the most ire among Reds fans, was Jay Bruce not getting a Gold Glove. Honestly, I felt Bruce was better in the field last year. He’s mostly remembered for that one play in the NLDS. You honestly need to get over that one play if hold that against him.


Here’s where I will refer a bit to my first point. We see Jay Bruce on an everyday basis. A bias toward him will naturally (and maybe even subconsciously) evolve. Reds fans know he has one of the strongest, if not the strongest, right field arm in the National League. You must give Bruce an edge on that. Although some will poo-poo the idea of merely bringing up the numbers of errors is a waste, I will disagree on one fact. You’ve got to field the ball when you get to it or when it’s hit at you. Ethier did as he made no errors. Bruce made four, all of the fielding variety.

A Twitter comment I read was that Bruce gets to more balls than Ethier. Not necessarily true. If you look on Fangraphs, it’s kind of the opposite. While Bruce had more balls hit his way (252 to 184 for Ethier), the Dodger right fielder got to a larger percentage of those hit into his “zone” (.940 to Bruce’s 0.913). And comparing to getting to balls outside of your area is almost even as well. Bruce did get to more (76 to 70), but maybe not enough to make a difference.

On the whole, the previous statement is true, from a numbers standpoint only. As a percentage, it simply isn’t. If you want to take the range factors (RF/9 and RF/G from Baseball Reference into consideration, Bruce and Ethier are about equal. I could add that Bruce may be a victim of who plays center as well. That Drew Stubbs can cover a lot of ground. I think he covers even more than the guy that won the center field Gold Glove.

Look, I wanted Bruce to win it as well, but I will reiterate what I said a bit ago. I believe Bruce should have won the Gold Glove last year, but I honestly don’t feel he was worthy this year. I know that will bring about some screams and groans (Hey! Halloween is over!).

You might get the idea I am not a fan of Jay Bruce considering some feel I was too harsh when I was doling out my grades, and now this. If you have a doubt, you should see the wallpaper on my cell. Yes, it’s Jay Bruce. Could have gone with Votto or BP or Cueto, but I didn’t.

One last bit about the offense maybe playing a role. If it did for every position, wouldn’t you think a guy with 30+ homers would get the nod over a guy with less than 20?

If you want to look at something about who should have won the Gold Glove for right field, look here.

Read it carefully. I night, I just might, quiz you later…

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