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Monday, October 23, 2006

2006 American League Gold Glove Winners - As I see it

Defensive data has been and is being refined pretty well these days.  With more and more play-by-play data making it to the mainstream, all of us are stretching the boundaries of what we require from black-box analysts.  With the exception of some park factors, we are discovering that Zone Rating provides a pretty good picture of defense.  Taking the zone rating and accounting for league averages, based on tens of thousands of defensive innings played, we can closely assess the number of runs saved by a defensive players as compared to his peers.

To be sure, even this data could be refined to account for parks better - Fenway’s Green Monster is a tremendous issue - and handedness of batters - NOT handedness of pitchers - to tune the picture a bit better, but the data you will read will be very close to any refined data.  Very close.  The basic methodology for this work is here.

I have tweaked this for chances per inning from the original data, so the chances assumed here may be slightly higher/lower, but if you did the same work from the referenced article, you’d find your results would be within a run or two of what I post.  And really, the most important thing I do here is provide you with the tools to evaluate defense on your own, without me doing the math.  Please note, after this article, I will post some others’ work that even refines what I have done, with a comparison to what I have done.  It should be exciting for you - it is for me.  Most importantly, it broadens the network of individuals accurately creating the defensive evaluations, as well as allows for everyday updates.  Yes, I said *every day*.

Now on with the show.  Here are the leaders and trailers at every position for the American League, with some commentary where necessary.  In general I draw the Gold Glove qualification line at a significant number of innings - usually around 650.  It would be unusual for someone playing only 650 innings to lead the league in anything, but I’m willing to give it a look. 


First	LastName	Team	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
Ivan	Rodriguz	Det	123	1054.3	9	11
Ramon	Hernandz	Bal	135	1094.3	6	8
Joe	Mauer	        Min	120	1059.3	4	5
Jorge	Posada	        NYY	134	1050.3	4	5
Jose	Molina	        LAA	76	603.3	3	7
Kenji	Johjima	        Sea	144	1173.7	2	3
John	Buck	        KC	112	930.3	2	3
Jason	Kendall	        Oak	141	1254.0	2	2
Rod	Barajas	        Tex	94	825.0	1	1
Mike	Napoli	        LAA	94	716.3	0	1
Jason	Varitek		Bos	99	822.3	-2	-2
A.J.	Przynski	CWS	132	1125.0	-5	-6
Bengie	Molina		Tor	99	842.0	-6	-10
Victor	Martinez	Cle	133	1110.0	-8	-10

Wow, Ivan Rodriguez is the best defensive catcher in the AL.  Who knew?  Mostly there is very little difference between catchers in preventing runs via CS, PB, WP and E.  I-Rod stands out, but mostly, nearly every catcher is the same, give or take a game with a knuckleballer.

First Base

First	LastName	TEAM	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
Chris	Shelton		Det	115	913.0	12	17
Doug	Mntkwicz	KC	90	725.7	7	12
Justin	Morneau		Min	153	1346.3	4	4
Andy	Phillips	NYY	94	533.0	3	8
Travis	Lee		TB	112	865.7	3	5
Mark	Teixeira	Tex	159	1399.0	2	2
Dan	Johnson		Oak	85	715.7	1	2
Lyle	Overbay		Tor	145	1233.0	0	0
Kevin	Youkilis	Bos	127	1030.0	-1	-2
Nick	Swisher		Oak	90	700.0	-2	-5
Ben	Broussrd	Cle/Sea	90	642.7	-2	-5
Kevin	Millar		Bal	98	792.3	-3	-5
Richie	Sexson		Sea	150	1310.3	-6	-6
Paul	Konerko		CWS	140	1182.7	-8	-9
Jason	Giambi		NYY	68	480.0	-8	-23

Shelton only got about 50 more innings as the season drew to a close, but he was outstanding with his glove.  These leaders didn’t change since August, though.  Again, notice there is very little variation between defensive runs.  From Morneau to Millar, these guys are about the same.  Giambi didn’t really qualify for this list, but he was pretty bad, so I thought I’d illustrate his need to DH.

Second Base

First	LastName	TEAM	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
Aaron	Hill		Tor	112	912.0	16	24
Placido	Polanco		Det	108	943.0	14	21
Mark	Grudzlnk	KC	132	1111.0	7	9
Mark	Ellis		Oak	123	1070.0	7	8
Brian	Roberts		Bal	137	1168.7	6	7
Jose	Lopez		Sea	150	1322.0	2	2
TadahitoIguchi		CWS	136	1209.3	1	1
RobinsonCano		NYY	118	1009.0	1	1
Luis	Castillo	Min	142	1239.3	-2	-2
Ian	Kinsler		Tex	119	1032.0	-3	-3
Adam	Kennedy		LAA	133	1141.7	-6	-7
Mark	Loretta		Bos	138	1172.0	-6	-7
Ronnie	Belliard	Cle	91	768.3	-9	-17
Jorge	Cantu		TB	103	899.7	-22	-33

Aaron Hill?  Maybe the turf in Toronto helps, considering Orlando Hudson’s slide in Arizona.  Placido Polanco - he’s good.  Well, he has been.  Jorge Cantu is the worst fielder in the majors.  He’s bad all over the field.

Third Base

First	LastName	TEAM	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
Brandon	Inge		Det	159	1392.0	20	20
Mike	Lowell		Bos	153	1299.7	14	15
Adrian	Beltre		Sea	155	1358.0	11	11
Joe	Crede		CWS	149	1260.0	8	8
Nick	Punto		Min	89	766.0	8	13
Hank	Blalock		Tex	122	1063.7	1	1
Eric	Chavez		Oak	134	1166.7	0	0
Maicer	Izturis		LAA	87	707.3	-3	-7
Aaron	Boone		Cle	101	842.0	-4	-7
Melvin	Mora		Bal	154	1323.0	-4	-5
Troy	Glaus		Tor	145	1175.0	-7	-8
Mark	Teahen		KC	109	924.7	-7	-10
Alex	Rodriguz	NYY	151	1288.7	-8	-8

Over the last two months of the season, the BIP distribution tweaked the third base rankings.  A-Rod improved over his last 200 innings and Brandon Inge caught and moved well up on Mike Lowell.  Lowell still finished with a fine season, and Adrain Beltre had a great showing.  Beltre also hit a little this year, so he may not be the worst signing ever.  We’ll look at A-Rod as a total package during the MVP discussions.


First	LastName	TEAM	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
Juan	Uribe		CWS	132	1130.0	14	16
Alex	Gonzalez	Bos	111	966.3	10	14
Jason	Bartlett	Min	99	880.7	10	15
Bobby	Crosby		Oak	95	828.0	7	11
Michael	Young		Tex	155	1356.3	4	4
Carlos	Guillen		Det	145	1235.0	2	3
Julio	Lugo		TB	73	620.3	1	2
John	McDonald	Tor	90	662.7	1	1
Miguel	Tejada		Bal	150	1294.7	0	0
Orlando	Cabrera		LAA	152	1321.7	-3	-3
Jhonny	Peralta		Cle	147	1275.3	-3	-3
Derek	Jeter		NYY	150	1292.3	-5	-6
YunieskyBetancourt	Sea	157	1374.3	-7	-7
Angel	Berroa		KC	131	1117.3	-11	-13

White Sox fans have been wanting to see Uribe at the top of the list.  He’s made it.  Derek Jeter, who is a great bet to win the MVP, has seen his defensive numbers slide from the last two seasons.  Jeter, while not good, wasn’t too bad, and I would describe him as “slightly below average”.  Only Berroa stands out negatively.  Michael Young’s defense really jumped from last season.  That’s odd, but it could be he worked on it.

Left Field

First	LastName	TEAM	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
Emil	Brown		KC	87	719.3	9	17
Carl	Crawford	TB	148	1252.3	8	8
Scott	Podsednk	CWS	135	1087.7	7	9
Reed	Johnson		Tor	100	635.3	5	11
Raul	Ibanez		Sea	157	1397.7	4	4
Nick	Swisher		Oak	79	655.7	4	8
Jason	Michaels	Cle	117	1009.3	3	5
Craig	Monroe		Det	113	927.3	1	2
Garret	Anderson	LAA	94	813.7	-1	-1
Frank	Catlnotto	Tor	101	760.0	-2	-4
Brad	Wilkerson	Tex	80	664.3	-5	-9
Melky	Cabrera		NYY	116	999.7	-6	-9
Manny	Ramirez		Bos	123	1031.3	-32	-42

This offseason, I am going to try to solve the Fenway park factor.  We’ve seen good new research from other people, and I hope to establish a PF for Manny.  The more I read, the more I think Manny may be *average* on defense.  I know, I need to give some demonstration for that.  Otherwise, it is a tight group.  Carl Crawford could get a Gold Glove.  Well, he might if they awarded the GGs for each position, rather than “Outfield”. 

Center Field

First	LastName	TEAM	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
Corey	Patterson	Bal	134	1079.7	16	20
Vernon	Wells		Tor	150	1290.3	12	13
Grady	Sizemore	Cle	160	1379.3	7	6
Curtis	Grndersn	Det	157	1312.0	5	6
Johnny	Damon		NYY	131	1087.7	4	5
Brian	Anderson	CWS	134	966.0	3	5
Chone	Figgins		LAA	96	829.0	3	5
Rocco	Baldelli	TB	91	749.3	0	0
Torii	Hunter		Min	143	1232.3	0	0
Joey	Gathright	KC/TB	130	1017.7	-2	-3
Mark	Kotsay		Oak	127	1047.0	-5	-6
Gary	Matthews	Tex	142	1227.0	-8	-9
Coco	Crisp		Bos	103	901.7	-8	-13

Corey Patterson in climbing the charts as one of the top defensive CFs over the last 20 years.  All of these guys can run down fly balls.  Torii Hunter dropped significantly the last two months - was he injured?  Could that have led to the ITPHR in the ALDS?

Right Field

First	LastName	TEAM	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
Alex	Rios		Tor	124	953.0	11	16
Milton	Bradley		Oak	94	803.7	7	12
Ichiro	Suzuki		Sea	121	1062.7	7	9
Reggie	Sanders		KC	73	601.0	6	14
Casey	Blake		Cle	93	814.3	4	7
Damon	Hollins		TB	78	464.7	3	7
Mark	DeRosa		Tex	60	512.0	2	6
Trot	Nixon		Bos	110	891.3	0	1
Nick	Markakis	Bal	127	917.3	-2	-3
JermaineDye		CWS	146	1245.0	-2	-2
Magglio	Ordonez		Det	148	1268.0	-2	-2
Bobby	Abreu		NYY	57	447.0	-5	-15
VladimirGuerrero	LAA	126	1090.0	-5	-7
Kevin	Mench		Tex	57	489.7	-6	-16
Bernie	Williams	NYY	58	425.3	-7	-22
Michael	Cuddyer		Min	142	1227.3	-7	-8

Alex Rios is a pretty good fielder.  However, coupled with his very good defensive work in centerfield, I think Ichiro Suzuki should win the Gold Glove.  Pattersona dn Wells should win the other two, but I doubt Patterson will.  +/-7 runs is a tight group around average.  And again, I added two Yankees to the list that I may not have otehrwise.  The Yankees are really struggling in the outfield defensively, and could find that to be a big reason why they couldn’t beat the Tigers.

My Gold Gloves?  Rodriguez, Shelton, Polanco, Inge, Uribe, Crawford, Patterson, Suzuki.  That’s a bunch of Tigers.  Is it really any wonder they led the majors in ERA?  It wasn’t all the pitching.

Chris Dial Posted: October 23, 2006 at 01:07 AM | 114 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: October 30, 2006 at 03:23 PM (#2228010)
But I'm biased, after all I did name my cat after him.


To me, he'll always be a catcher on the White Sox.
   102. RollingWave Posted: October 31, 2006 at 05:44 AM (#2228583)
Doesn't BP's RATE take park factor into consideration?

also what about defense effeciency ratings, of course it has some problems (like if a OF plays a single into a double) the def ratings had NYY as teh second best team.
   103. Jake Luft Posted: October 31, 2006 at 02:53 PM (#2228736)
Judging by this metric it doesn't seem that carrying Brian Anderson's bat was worth it for the White Sox.
   104. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: October 31, 2006 at 08:01 PM (#2229111)
We'll actually have an article concerning the MVP and combining offense and defense.
   105. semajllibfonaf Posted: October 31, 2006 at 11:32 PM (#2229258)
I'm very happy that people are doing defensive stat evaluations that have a clear degree of legitimancy. Still, and probably always, the variables in evaluating defense are far, far greater than in using a numbers-only approach to any other part of the game since they are the least in control of the player himself.
When the numbers confirm the obvious, they are interesting but, of course, not very useful. When they go against our observation, they provide the tools to examine our beliefs, positive or negative, about a player's abilities (and in a seasonal context this is obviously more problematic). However, when we look at the stats and comb through the plays themselves, defensive ability as judged by stats alone simply doesn't satisfy me as a fan: after considering their argument and seeing nothing on the playing field to confirm them I feel safe in assuming that the variables have not been tamed.

For me, and I really wish more fans would say this, the usefulness of stat analysis is whether it increases my enjoyment of the game by increasing my understanding of the abilities of the BEST players. I do not give a flying f--- about salaries, frankly, and I am only moderately interested in any debate over the average, much replacement-level, player. I want to enjoy the play of the human beings engaged in this wonderfully empty activity, and watch the long saga that is baseball unfold.
I want to be in the audience and enjoy the story (and knowing some of the backstage work and the gossip adds a bit of zest, generally). When stats help me appreciate the game, they are wonderful. When they become the be-all & end-all in any "baseball" discussion, they are as dull as the worst SI "sportswriter" bu--sh--.
   106. WSPanic Posted: November 04, 2006 at 07:08 PM (#2231594)
Just curious if there's an overall "outfielders" list that would include players who did not qualify at one position. I'd be intersted to see how David DeJesus ranks. He had 545 innings in LF and 480 in CF.
   107. Chris Dial Posted: November 06, 2006 at 02:00 AM (#2232067)
I have sent the entire defensive sheet to Dan, and hopefuly he'll be posting it before too long. I apologize for the delay.
   108. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: November 06, 2006 at 03:33 AM (#2232072)
I had DeJesus as +4 in LF and +5 in CF. I hope the Royals move him back to CF, he's wasted in LF and if he can stay healthy he'll be one of the best players in the game next year, IMO.
   109. Ron Johnson Posted: November 21, 2006 at 01:58 PM (#2242837)
BBRef has him as being out there for a third of an inning, it must've been a gag or something. Last play of the season one year, or something?

Five man infield with Erstad (the CF) making an infield play. So Mo was listed as the CF because a putout 5-8 (or whatever) didn't make a heck of a lot of sense. Mo never actually played out in CF.
   110. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 21, 2006 at 03:00 PM (#2242860)
Five man infield with Erstad (the CF) making an infield play. So Mo was listed as the CF because a putout 5-8 (or whatever) didn't make a heck of a lot of sense.

Ron's correct that it was a five-man infield (something that Scioscia loves to do). However, it wouldn't have been a position change unless Erstad actually went to play at 1B, with Vaughn moving off the bag. That's certainly possible, with Erstad being left-handed and Vaughn right-handed. Retrosheet, FWIW, doesn't show Vaughn with any OF games in that season (2000). I'd have to look up the event files for Anaheim to see if there's a comment in the file.

You can most certainly have a putout go 5-8 (or whatever) under these circumstances. If Erstad comes in to play a "rover" position in the middle of the diamond, with the regular infielders staying put, he's still considered the center fielder under the rules, and if he were to cover 2B on a force play fielded by the 3B, the play *would* go 5-8 in the box score.

-- MWE
   111. DL from MN Posted: November 21, 2006 at 03:16 PM (#2242866)
"Torii Hunter dropped significantly the last two months - was he injured?"

Yes he was, he had a stress fracture in his foot and clearly lost some speed after he came off the DL.
   112. AROM Posted: November 21, 2006 at 03:42 PM (#2242893)
I vaguely remember Erstad coming in for 5 man infields. Not with Vaughn at 1st, but with Speizio.

Erstad came in, got his old 1B glove out, and Sandfrog played somewhere in the middle of the diamond.
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