There were three Cincinnati Reds players up for Gold Glove awards on Tuesday night, yet none of them took home the gold.
The most egregious denial of an award was from the Reds’ four-time Gold Glove second baseman, Brandon Phillips.
For Brandon Phillips, this isn’t the first time he has been robbed of the award. In an age where defensive metrics are as underdeveloped as time travel, Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu rode the coattails of his superior advanced metrics to his first Gold Glove award.
When reading basic defensive stats, LeMahieu does not appear to be vastly superior. In 676 chances at second base, he made six errors. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, Phillips committed just two errors all year in 525 chances. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a stout believer in errors being deceiving for two reasons: a.) In order to commit an error, you must first get to the ball. Not all defensive players have elite range that allows them to get to the play, and b.) Official scorers for each individual club make the final decision. An error is such a gray area that more than a hundred years later, here we are still discussing how to fix it.
Then, there are the statistics that will make you wish you paid attention in calculus and didn’t use it as your 40-minute nap period. Provided by Baseball Info Solutions, Brandon Phillips saved six defensive runs above average from the normal second baseman last season. While that is a solid number, according to the metrics that about half a dozen people understand, DJ LeMahieu compiled a ridiculous 16 defensive runs saved.
I believe it has become unfortunate that these awards are being determined by statistics that we don’t completely understand yet. This is comparable to Jurassic Park where they recreate dinosaurs; yet don’t understand what they just did.
Hall of Fame broadcaster Tim McCarver (who has seen and knows more about baseball than you or I ever will) said on a broadcast that he believed Phillips was the best ever at the position. I don’t think he checked his Rdrs before he made that statement.