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November 11, 2009

Orioles: Glove story

Sorry, but I was on my flight home yesterday when the announcement came down that Adam Jones had won his first Gold Glove -- and the first by an Orioles outfielder since Paul Blair won the last of his eight in 1975 -- so I'm a little late to this party. It was no surprise, of course, since Adam's brother spilled the beans on his MySpace page last week, but it has generated quite a bit of conversation about the selection process.

Since I used to handle the balloting in Baltimore for The Sporting News (which distributed the ballots for Rawlings), I think I can give some decent insight into the situation.

The process definitely is flawed, though that doesn't mean the vast majority of players aren't very deserving. I think Adam Jones is a terrific center fielder and will go on to win a lot more Gold Gloves, but he does benefit from a format that awards three Gold Gloves to outfielders in each league without respect to their specific outfield positions.

That means there is a natural predisposition toward center fielders, who are generally considered the best all-around athletes in the outfield, and that predisposition has been magnified during the ESPN era. Since the managers and coaches who vote cannot vote for their own players, they depend on a variety of sources for information on opposing players. There is some direct observation, of course, but you can't discount the impact of the nightly highlight shows on the outcome of the voting.

In short, the guy with the most Web Gems is going to have a big advantage, and the outfielders with the most Web Gems are usually going to be center fielders. That's just the way of the baseball world right now. I don't know if that qualifies as injustice, but there are a lot of corner outfielders who get overlooked, and Nick Markakis has been prominent on that list the past couple of years.

The first year of the Gold Gloves in 1957, separate awards were given for left field, center field and right field. I think they should go back to that. If they awarded the infield Gold Gloves the way they award the outfield Gold Gloves, you'd have three shortstops and a third baseman winning in each league every year. Where's the sense in that?

But, in my opinion, the real problem with the Gold Glove selection process is the surprising weight that -- intentionally or subconsciously -- has been placed on reputation and offensive production. Past winners have a huge advantage in ensuing seasons, as evidenced by the time Rafael Palmeiro won one at first base during a season when he was the everyday designated hitter.

It's basically proof that some managers and coaches take the balloting very seriously, perusing the defensive stats carefully before making their choices, and some others take a more casual, instinctive approach that favors higher profile players.

In short, I applaud Rawlings for deciding a half century ago to create a high-profile award to reward excellence at each defensive position, but it's high time to perfect the selection process.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 1:10 PM | | Comments (52)
Categories: Just baseball


The award is a joke. Jones and Ichiro aren't even the best defensive outfielders on their own teams. That would be Markakis and Franklin Gutierrez, who is probably the best defensive OF in baseball.

I would have to think Carlos Gomez should come up in that conversation as well. Then there is that season that Ozzie Guillen won one over Cal Ripken Jr.

Adam is a very good CF'er, but if I am correct this is only his second or third year of actually playing the position full time. The Mariners moved him around a bit when he was with them. He's still raw, but you can see all the talent he has. With some polish I think he will be mentioned with some of the best to play there, but I don't know in my mind if he was Gold Glove worthy this season.

Just another on a long list of meaningless awards to keep the game alive during the off-season.....Voters don't even take it serious.How about spending more time trying to improve the putrid umpiring and maybe even replacing some of those arrogant old-timers who can't get a call right when they are standing 5ft. away from it.

The problem with people not being able to vote for players on their own teams is that then they won't vote for the player who is the chief rival to one of their own players. Thus, they vote for a third choice; if enough people settle on the same third alternative, Voila! Someone no one would have picked first wins.

Pete's reply: I'd be surprised if that really happens. My experience is that the coaches and managers do go for who they think is the most deserving player.

Brett -

You're right about Guitierrez.

But he had no chance from the start because:

A. He plays for the least publicized west coast team

B. He's not a good hitter

If managers and coaches actually took 10 minutes to check out UZR and Fielding Bible stats instead of just watching a few Web Gems or picking the guy they picked last year (and the year before and the year before and so on), maybe the best defenders would actually win Gold Gloves and get the recognition they deserve.

At least they didn't give Jeter a gold glove....oh wait..

Micah -

Jeter was actually a decent choice this season.

2009 was easily the best defensive season of his career and the only other guys who were really better than he was missed a lot of time. Adam Everett played just 118 games, Cesar Izturis played just 114, and Jack Wilson played half of the season in the NL.

So really, what you're doing with your comment is exactly what the managers and coaches do when they vote for the same guy year after year.

I like Jones, but he's no Paul Blair. I'm not even sure if he's as good as Markakis. I can't get over seeing him drop a ball because he was blowing a bubble as he tried to field it.

Pete's reply: Do you really think that's the reason he dropped the ball? He played pretty good the rest of the time with that bubble gum.

To all of the bubble naysayers: What about all the times Jones has blown a bubble while robbing a home run or lacing a double in to the gap?

Easy solution in addition to the left, center, and right fielder gold gloves. Assign the voting to the sportswriters across the land, or add the sportwriters votes to the managers and coaches votes.

Ok, so maybe he should blow bubbles when he bats. No problem.

I was driving home from the beach over the summer when the Os were playing the Red Sox listening to the game on satelite radio. Jacoby Elsbury hit a ground rule double that hopped over the fence and unfortunately I was listending to the Sox announcers. They went on about how he might have had an inside the park HR had the ball not done over the fence. No mention of the fact that both our CF and RF have cannons for arms. The next play they hit a ground ball to right and the announcers say something to the effect that it is an RBI single when Nick comes up throwing and guns him down at the plate. They were in shock. Could not believe what they saw. Not many highlights this season, but listening to those smug announcers call that play when our non gold glove RF nailed their speedy CF at the plate was awesome.

Hey Pete,
i respect & like your comments at time, but let's celebrate that an ORIOLE won something this year. At least the O's didn't pay $468Mill (Yankees) to win it. As you said Markikis probably should have won it last year, but baseball at times is not fair, so let's celebrate that at least one of our O's is a winner!!....Pete, aren't you an O's fan?

Pete's reply: Technically, I am not an O's fan, but would certainly like to see them win. I wasn't trying to rain on Adam's parade. I like Adam and think he's going to be a fantastic player. He'll win a ton of Gold Gloves. I was just trying to explain why Markakis hasn't won one even though he seems deserving.

Hey, if players that don't hit well don't get recognized, how did Mark Belanger get all of his Gold Glove awards>

Pete's reply: Because sometimes the voters get it right and do the right thing and some other times they give more emphasis to offensive stats and past reputation than they should.

O's4ever -

It's nice that Jones won, but what's there to celebrate when we all know he didn't deserve it?

Deke -

When Belanger was winning Gold Gloves, shortstops didn't hit 15-20 homers per year.


Congrats to out to Adam Jones. Of all the Oriole players, Adam Jones has the greatest upside and our only one with the potential to be an annual all-star batting 3rd in the line-up with 25 steals, 300 BA and 25-30 Homers. But your absolutely correct in the ill conceived format for selecting OF's. As many others have stated, Nick is by far the O's best defensive OF! Adam needs to work better on positioning and quit cheating in so much, he doesn't retreat as well as Paul Blair and gets burnt over the top!

Again, congrats Adam, keep up the good work!

Actually, neither Jones nor Markakis had that good of a season statistically...Jones had all around a better season with the glove, but neither was that much better in any category...Jones was 1st in chances per game for centerfielders, but 7th in fielding percentage. Markakis was near the bottom in chances per game for rightfielders and his best score was in Zone Rating where he came in 3rd. Both were near the middle of the top 10 in most other categories...I didn't check assists for a number of reasons.

Of course, celebrate that some Oriole won something! Then, fix the Gold Glove selection problem by letting ME decide who gets them. No Yankees, no Red Sox, no Dodgers, no Mets, no sweat!

Who said the Gold Glove awards were objectively based? Did I miss something?

congratulations To Adam Jones!

He had a great first half in 2009! Yes at times he comes across as arrogant, but he also sounded Humbled by the award.

May it lead to better times in the future!

not brooks-

You're right that '09 was one of Jeter's better years defensivly, which still isn't saying much. Elvis Andrus was far more deserving, regardless of errors committed.

Aside from that, Teixeria isn't a bad choice, but Kevin Youkilus should been the GG for '09

And my choices for the outfield would've been Mark Sweeney, Carl Crawford and Franklin Gueturrez.

The Mystical One -
Guillen actually had a better defensive year then Ripken. The year I'd be stumped with is when Alfredo Griffen won the GG in '84.

I wonder why they switched away from separate awards for left, right, and center? Maybe guys used to move around outfield positions more? Anyway, that's the way they vote for the All-Star outfielders too--just three, regardless of position. I wouldn't mind if they changed that too.

not brooks;

You're confusing me a little. On one hand you say that Jeter was a decent GG selection while on the other you point to the fielding bible as a good source to read.

Well I did, but Jeter didn't seem to be too popular with the guys who were handing out their fielding awards. Jeter was 17th with just 3 points in their voting compared to the winner with 86. Izturis got 39.

It's hard to see your suggestion that Jeter was a decent choice not getting you a good argument from those guys.

Something positive happens for the O's and people are complaining. Jones is a very good young player and whether or not he deserved the gold glove isn't the point because he got it so enjoy it as fans.

Which of the honors in baseball isn't flawed? Cal won MVP on a horrible O's team, but where is it written that the MVP has to be a winning team? If baseball wanted to do something, let them have one most outstanding player award besides the two MVPs in the AL and NL so voters can pick someone from a losing squad. Some idiot voters, wont choice a pitcher for MVP and once in a while, a pitcher really does merit MVP status and some voters are more enticed by wins than era which doesn't help guys that play on bad teams that can't score so the whole process is flawed. The All Star Game is a popularity contest and Gold Glove winners, now have to have pop in their bat which has zip to do with fielding. Look at Manager of the Year, as a guy like Ron Washington, has no shot against Joe Giradi, but his Rangers lost Bradley and had a horrible year from Hamilton yet they were in the race for a playoff spot because of pitching and timely hitting, but I am sure voters will say he didn't get them in the playoffs so he will be doomed.

There is no rhyme or reason for any of the baseball award so I am just happy when an Oriole wins one.

Baseball is truly America's past time because just like politics, no matter who's in charge, they f%$k it up.

This is a self-critical discussion you won't find paralleled in any other baseball town. Nick's an outstanding RF, but would anyone think of putting him in CF? Please.

I'll admit to being surprised that AJ got the Gold Glove, but only because he played for a team that labored to avoid losing 100 games last season. Jones was clearly among the top outfielders in the AL, so let's give the selection process some credit for looking past the wretched record of the O's this season and selecting Jones.

Part of the problem with Gold Glove awards is that it seems to be awarded to players that are also good offensively. Not that there is anything wrong with that, if the guy is the best defensively at his position, but if there is someone who is better defensively and happens to bat .225 then so be it.

It seems that Gold Gloves are awarded with offensive numbers being taken into consideration.

If your response to kl on 11/11 is true, then why doubt the veracity and sincerety of those coaches and managers? They think that he should get an award for being 1 of the top 6 defensive outfielders in baseball in 2009. They also think that they can compete against the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers in a free spending business. go figure!

" point to the fielding bible as a good source to read.

Well I did, but Jeter didn't seem to be too popular with the guys who were handing out their fielding awards. Jeter was 17th with just 3 points in their voting compared to the winner with 86. Izturis got 39."

You're right on the numbers, bob, but you need to take a few more things into consideration. Look at the guys ahead of Jeter again.

- Jack Wilson split his season between leagues. No player that splits a season between leagues EVER wins a major award.

- Troy Tulowitzki, Brendan Ryan, Yunel Escobar, Jimmy Rollins, Paul Janish, Stephen Drew, J.J. Hardy and Rafael Furcal play in the NL.

- Cesar Izturis, Adam Everett and Jason Barlett each missed at least 25% of the season. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't give anyone an award if he missed 40+ games.

- Asdrubal Cabrera played only 100 games at shortstop.

- Elvis Andrus made 22 errors. He probably should have won anyway, but 22 is a huge number of errors. You can't really blame anyone for looking past him because of that. Especially since he'll probably put up an Omar Vizquel-esque stretch of Gold Glove dominance at shortstop over the next 10 or 12 years if he can stay healthy.

So now we've got Marco Scutaro (34), Erick Aybar (15) and Jeter (3). And if you read my entire post, you will have seen that I mentioned using Fielding Bible and UZR (as it's not a good plan to base defense on one single stat). Aybar posted a higher UZR than Jeter, 7.8 to 6.6, and Scutaro fell behind at 0.9

So, realistically, there were maybe one or two guys that should have taken the Gold Glove over Jeter. And the difference between those two guys and Jeter wasn't even that big.

John W. wrote: "I'll admit to being surprised that AJ got the Gold Glove, but only because he played for a team that labored to avoid losing 100 games last season."

So now players on losing teams shouldn't be recognized for their defense? What's next? Greinke shouldn't win the AL Cy Young because he plays for a horrible team?

not brooks-

If you take UZR,plus/minus,range factor, and zone rating, Andrus still comes out on top. Also, you'd have to consider who is playing 1st base and how many times Tex scooped up a ball in the dirt. Jeter wasn't even league average at SS. And I'm looking at B-R, Baseball Prospectus, and Fielding Bible.

And if came down between Izturis and Jeter, I'd pick Izturis. He played only 115 games, but he was eligible and was that much better. Sorry, but Jeter didn't deserve it.
And if you want to play comparisons, Andrus and Izturis were almost neck and neck at SS.

I remember when the Gold Glove was actually given for defense. The players with the highest fielding percentage were usually the winners, regardless of the offensive numbers. It is a defensive award -- keep it that way.

dave -

I never said that Jeter should have won it over Andrus. I actually said (more than once, I think) that Andrus should have won.

All I said is that Jeter wasn't a bad choice (my actual words were that he was a decent one) this season.

And you can go ahead and pick Izturis if you want, but in my book, guys who miss a quarter of the season don't deserve the big awards. And I would bet the voters feel the same way, as I'd be willing to wager that no player that played less than 130 games in a season has ever won a major award.

And since you're looking at Fielding Bible (along with some other sites), can you tell me where you found the Dewan plus/minus scores for 2009? I've been looking around and all I've found is a page telling me where I can buy Bill James' 2010 book, which published said scores.

not brooks is stupid. get a life.

not brooks is stupid. get a life.

Peter--does throwing ability get factored into Gold Glove?
If so, Markakis is surely the Man. Agreed?

Reply to "not brooks":

I'm not suggesting that players for a team with a poor record shouldn't be considered for the Gold Glove. Far from it. I was only saying that I was surprised because the national press can't help but look past players who toil for teams with poor records. All awards, including the Gold Glove, have a "popularity" component, and players for teams that finish with poor records have a tougher team being noticed. That's all. Hey, I'm thrilled that AJ got the GG!

Ricardo Rodriguez:

There is absolutely no reason for you to have said, "not brooks is stupid. get a life." He seems pretty well informed and intelligent to me. Your comment was needlessly insulting and does nothing but reflect badly on you.

not brooks:

You're a little off base when you said, "I'd be willing to wager that no player that played less than 130 games in a season has ever won a major award." AJ only played in 119 games this year, but he won a GG. If my memory still serves me correctly, Alan Trammell won the GG over Ripkin in 1984 despite only playing about 115-120 games and while Ripkin was setting the all time record for assists in a single season.

Giving the GG to Izturis might be out of line by the standards you think should be in play, but the guys who actually give them out evidently aren't playing by those standards.

not brooks-

point well taken, but...

Adam Jones and Torii Hunter both only played 119 games.

And as I pointed out in a previous post, Carl Crawford, Mark Sweeney and Franklin Gueturrez would've been my three choices for outfield GG.

For your question, most sources I refer to are Baseball Prospectus, Hard Ball Times, Beyond The Box Score, and Bill James Online (which is the most accreate and up to date for $3/month).

Also, didn't George Brett get the MVP in 1980 when he batted .390 in only 120 games?

John W. -

Sorry for the misunderstanding. Thanks for clarifying.

bob and dave -

You guys are right. And my wager was probably more than a little off base. Good thing I didn't actually make that bet.

It's definitely my personal bias that guys who miss a lot of time shouldn't win Gold Gloves, regardless of how their stats compare to the guys who played all year. To me, that's like a business giving the biggest raise to a guy who performed maybe a bit better than everyone else, but was out sick for two months.

dave - I meant to ask before, but I'm sure you mean Oakland's Ryan Sweeney. Correct?

yea, RYAN Sweeney. my bad.

Proved me wrong again, dave.

I really shouldn't be making any bets.

Of course...

The Royals won the AL West by 14 games in 1980 and Brett hit almost 40 points higher than the next guy and also led the league in slugging % by almost 70 points.

Even I would have voted for Brett in 1980.

not brooks:

I get your point about games played, but I'm not sure that its that simple. How many games has Izturis missed over the years because a manager decided that he needed a bat at short in a particular game? How many innings has he missed because he was replaced by a pinch hitter?

In other words, the guys who get to play 150+ games at short almost always do because they've got at least a somewhat decent or good bat. It seems almost perverse to me to restrict defensive awards to amongst those guys who can hit while excluding guys who can't hit a lick and who are in MLB solely because of how good they are with the glove.

We're so messed up here - we have to debate a positive? Who cares if the process is flawed. He won.

It's not the NFL officiating debate.

Let it be


I welcome any subject change you prefer.

This is the most negative bs of something positive I've ever seen. He dropped a ball because he was blowing a bubble? Are you kidding? These guys field like we walk, its natural. Thats why they're playing where they are and we're playing where we are. A lot of players have their 'thing' right before they haul in a fly ball or field a grounder. 'That guy taps his glove right before a popup hits it, that costs him a split second" PLEASE STOP! The toughest part about winning a gold glove is winning your first one. Obviously, AJ impressed someone to be included in the conversation, much less win one. We'll hammer a manager for managing too much by the book, but then hammer voters because they don't vote strictly on stats. There's a place somewhere in the middle where the science and the instinct meet. That's where AJ won it. Maybe he got votes because after running wind sprints all over the outfield for a few innings, he was still able to make a nice play. year, he and Markakis can make up 2/3 of the GG outfield!

cush -

Nice points, all, but understand that it's ok to not agree with who an award was given too even if that person plays for your favorite team.

The thing that irritates me the most is that Franklin Guitierrez put up one of the best defensive seasons of all time by an outfielder and he had absolutely no chance of winning a Gold Glove from the start. Why? Because he can't hit and he plays for a West Coast team that hasn't been very good recently. What? I thought the Gold Glove Award was supposed to be about defensive excellence.

Same thing with Adam Everett. I don't think he deserved a GG this season, because he missed so many games. But in 2006, Everett put up the best Dewan plus/minus score in the history of that statistic. (If you're not familiar with it, go check out Essentially, the guys at Fielding Bible found out that Everett made 43 more plays than the average shortstop that year. But he had no chance to win a Gold Glove because he hit .239 that season.

And then you've got guys like Troy Tulowitzki and Chase Utley. Guys who hit well and have been the best defender at their position (based on UZR, Utley has been the best defender in the game over the past three years) for the past few years, but get absolutely no recognition. And that's probably because coaches and managers either vote for the guy they voted for the year before (Jimmy Rollins at short, Orlando Hudson at second) or for the guy that got the most Web Gems.

Gold Glove voting is a joke. It makes no sense. Year after year after year the wrong guys get the award. And our guy was the wrong guy this year (among several other wrong guys). There's nothing wrong with saying that.

All these awards are objective by a number of accounts. Did Pedrioia deserve the MVP last year? In my opinion, no. Cliff Lee was more valuable by a wide margin. But then there are those who believe a pitcher shouldm't get a MVP because they pitch only 35 games. Yeah. right. Unless it's a Pujols or Arod, I'll take a Cliff Lee over almost any player.

Here's a joke - Micheal Young getting a GG in '08.

Pete here in florida we dont see a lot of news re the orioles what or where is mike flanagen these ays?

Pete here in florida we dont see a lot of news re the orioles what or where is mike flanagen these days

Jones is an overrated player all around. First he has terrible plate discipline. Second,despite his speed he'sslow getting to first and bad at stealing bases.Third he's a terrible slider going into bases. Too many balls get over his head in the OF and he shorts catchable balls in front of him.His arm is as about as erroneous as they get.He airmails balls all the time and throws to the wrong base.
His getting the GG just shows how easily people jump on bandwagons...There's no question he has raw talent but he's about as far as you can get from a polished player.

It's no diffent than how people think Pie is such a great OF,when he isn't.

John -

I sure hope you're not as pessimistic about life as you are about young baseball players.

Look at Jones' numbers from '08 to '09. Sure, he's young and raw, but things aren't nearly as bad as you're painting them.

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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