Young another bad Gold Glove choice
November, 6, 2008
Yesterday in this space, I wondered: Could the Gold Glove voters -- the managers and the coaches -- in the American League be as foolish as the National League voters, who somehow decided Nate McLouth was one of their league's three best outfielders? Fear not, sports fans. The AL awards are out , and the voters came up with a whopper of their own In 2003, Mike Mussina won his sixth Gold Glove. He also won 17 games that season. Since then, he hadn't won more than 15 games in a season or any Gold Gloves. Until 2008, when he won 20 games and his seventh Gold Glove. Coincidence? You decide. My Fielding Bible vote went to Kenny Rogers, who did win a real Gold Glove in 2006. Mussina was good this season. He's always good. But there was nothing about his performance (and there hasn't been since 2003) that screamed, "Gold Glove!" At catcher, Joe Mauer is a solid choice. I would have voted for Jose Molina, just ahead of Mauer. But Molina started only 81 games behind the plate while Mauer started 135. That's a huge difference and does give me second thoughts about Molina. The Gold Glove voters deserve some credit for rewarding Carlos Pena, who had a fine season in the field. My choice would have been Lyle Overbay, who was just as good as Pena this season and has a stronger track record (suggesting a higher level of true excellence). But Pena is fine. Dustin Pedroia is not the best second baseman in the AL. Mark Ellis is the best. But Ellis started only 114 games this season, and Pedroia hit like blazes while starting 145 games. Also, he's pretty good with the glove. Not the best Gold Glove choice, but not a poor one, and certainly consistent with the history of the award: Good Fielder + Great Hitter = Gold Glove. I'm afraid the voters don't have the same excuse at shortstop. Michael Young (this year's choice) and Derek Jeter are two of the worst everyday shortstops in recent history. And yet, Young and Jeter now have captured four of the past five AL Gold Gloves. Honestly, this is pretty mind-blowing (unless you've been paying attention to the Gold Glove results for the past few years, in which case, it should be pretty hard to blow your mind). From 2004 through 2007, Young was roughly the 30th-best shortstop in the majors. Over those four years, he was roughly 100 plays worse than the average major league shortstop. This season, he improved some and might have cost his team only 10 hits rather than 20 or 30. Sure, it might have been a one-season fluke, but you have to give the guy credit for doing better. You don't have to give him an award suggesting he's the top defensive shortstop in the AL. Look, it's not just me and a bunch of sabermetric whack jobs. Here's a bit of Lone Star Ball's Adam Morris on Young's new-found honor:
However, the other thing that this would end up doing is making it harder, one would think, to sell the idea of Young changing positions. I think most of us acknowledge he's a liability in the field at the position, and needs to move
but selling the idea of moving him, even next offseason, if he's just a year away from winning a gold glove, would seem to be even harder.