Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gold Glove For Manny?

Oh you laugh, but if the voters voted for a Gold Glove Left Fielder, Manny would most likely be the man (pun intended).

The Gold Glove is really the dumbest award in Baseball. According the Rawlings Golf Glove website, the award is determined by "those who best know how to evaluate performance. Managers and coaches of each major league team select a squad of superior defensive players in their own league, excluding players from their own team." That makes sense. People like Tony Pena are asked to decide who the best SS is in the AL despite only seeing guys like Yuniesky Betancourt 6 times a year. The award is about flashiness / name recognition and entrenchment. That's why Derek Jeter keeps winning the award despite losing a step a year, why Jason Varitek won it in 2005 despite being one of the worst defensive catchers in the league and why Rafael Palmeiro won it in 1999 after playing 28 games at first base. The award has great cache' even though it is not founded on any objective criteria. What's even more stupid is that despite the fact that the point is to "select a squad of superior defensive players," they don't require a LF, OF and RF. The awards are just given to "Outfielders." Which is why this year the award will likely go to Sizemore, Wells, Ichiro or Hunter. Four guys who play centerfield. It's because of this stupidity and arbitrariness that I nominate Manny Ramirez for the 2007 Gold Glove award.

If you've seen Manny play this year, you've probably noticed (or not noticed) that he's not wound up on as many blooper reels as usual. He hasn't fallen once, he hasn't dived (is that proper english? It sounds so wrong) for a cutoff throw from Coco (a feat that still remains one of the top 5 funniest moments in baseball history and is unfortunately nowhere to be found on the interwebs) and he hasn't urinated anywhere near the playing field. It's been a fairly unremarkable season for Manny. He's been playing WAY shallow in left this year and is catching singles that fall in front of most Fenway newbies. He's gotten burned a couple times over his head but those would most likely have been doubles anyway. You can play shallow in left at Fenway because the worst that's gonna happen is a double. The wall bails you out. In terms of stats, he leads Left Fielders in Fielding Percentage and Assists. Plus, due to Fenway's Wall, no one can create a reasonable metric to cover other fielding stats like range factor and UZR. Those stats are thrown right out. If that stuff mattered and the Gold Glove outfield consisted of LF, OF & RF, Manny would probably win the award in left field. His competition is the able but new to the position Carl Crawfod, mediocrity like Ibanez, Monroe, Stewart and Payton, and the nightmarish range of Hideki Matsui (as well as part-timers Reggie Willits, Adam Lind and Emil Brown). This year he is playing light years ahead of those guys. If this award made sense, Manny would win it.

Three years ago if you'd said Manny Ramirez and Gold Glove in the same sentence you'd probably also find the word "never" in there somewhere. This year, I say that if Manny doesn't win the award, it's a crock of shit. Not that it isn't already.

No comments: