The Gold Glove Award is a joke. Yes, I mean it. Historically, the award almost never acknowledges all of the best defenders in baseball. It rarely ever gets close. This year was no exception.
Let me be clear about something. I’m not writing this because Ian Desmond didn’t win at shortstop, nor am I writing this to take away from Adam LaRoche’s award and his amazing season. It’s just that many of the awards handed out flat out ignored some of the best defensive players of the season.
Here’s the list of my top four outrages from the 2012 Gold Glove Awards.
4. J.J. Hardy over Brendan Ryan - Hardy had a fine year, both defensively and offensively, for perhaps the most shocking team in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles. That said, Ryan plays for the irrelevant Seattle Mariners and doesn’t hit particularly well, which sadly made him irrelevant in this conversation. Ryan lead the AL in UZR at 14.7 and is widely considered one of the best defensive shortstops in the league.
3. Jimmy Rollins over Zack Cozart and Ian Desmond - Rollins is getting older. While he’s still a pretty good defensive infielder, his range isn’t the same, and he certainly doesn’t compare well to either Cozart or Desmond. The worst part is the two best defenders at shortstop in the National League this year, Clint Barmes and Brandon Crawford, weren’t even nominated for the award.
2. Adam Jones over Mike Trout - This one is mind-boggling. Adam Jones had a -6.7 UZR this season, or second worst among American League center fielders. Trout, meanwhile, had a 10.6 UZR in center field in his rookie season, and he should be on his way to winning the AL MVP. But that’s a post for a different day. Trout’s incredible season just continues to be overlooked and/or forgotten. And while I was extremely frustrated by this decision, it was just edged out by this last one.
1. Carlos Gonzalez over anyone at all - Nothing is more outrageous than this. Let’s be honest, left field isn’t really where you tend to put your most elite defensive outfielders. Just look at the Nats solutions out there over the past several years: Michael Morse, Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn.
However, Carlos Gonzalez ranks dead last with a -8.5 UZR among all NL left fielders with more than 100 plate appearances as a left fielder. By UZR, this is more egregious than giving Michael Morse (-8.3 UZR) the left field Gold Glove Award. Martin Prado should have walked away with this award.
Soriano was among the best defensive left fielders this year, a sharp turn about for him. But few have the guts to vote for a fellow who in past was not above average if that in the past, but that is EXACTLY the sort of fellow I would be watching for, one who turned his his fielding around 100% and was among the very best in baseball in left field this year.