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Wednesday, January 09, 2008
The 2007 AL Gold Glove Awards
These are the 2007 Gold Glove Awards as I see them. Now, these are calculated as I laid out before, and reproducible by you. There are several good defensive systems available now, and thanks to STATS and BIS, they produce data that seems to be pretty consistent, with the occasional stray value. This year, we’ll take a look at other votes – the MLB Awards and John Dewan’s.
I have never come up with a satisfactory name for my defensive ratings. Dan Szymborski suggested I name them for what they are – Linear Weights Zone Ratings – LWZR. That appears to be pronounced Lew-zer.
So here are the LWZR Awards. Run values (Defensive Runs Saved – DRS) are “compared to league average”, and are an approximate value – players within a handful of runs can be considered approximately equal.
In the American League, with two-time incumbent Mark Teixeira over in the NL, there would be a new GG holder. Well, I suppose Doug Meitkiewicz (2001) and Darin Erstad (2004) were still active and neither played very much first base. I know, that didn’t stop Rafael Palmeiro in 1999. Nonetheless…
The LWZR Gold Glover – Casey Kotchman. Kotchman had 12 DRS, 5 more than the next 1B, Sean Casey. Kotchman could entrench himself with this award for a few years.
The Rawlings GG went to Kevin Youkilis. He had a nice season, but only managed to post a LWZR of 3 DRS. As AL starting first basemen go, defined as those that play half the season in the field (~700 IP), he came in third in LWZR. That doesn’t seem like a bad pick.
Dewan also had him third in the AL in his Plus/Minus system, but considerably behind the top AL first baseman: Casey Kotchman.
Over the last 16 years, only five second basemen have won the GG. Robbie Alomar, Chuck Knoblauch and Bret Boone account for 14 of those. They aren’t playing anymore. Orlando Hudson won in 2005, but he’s in the NL now. That leaves the 2006 incumbent as the only AL player to sniff the award, and be eligible for it in 2007. His age though had caught up to him, and he made a poor showing in 2007.
The LWZR GG goes to Mark Ellis of the A’s. He was head-and-shoulders above the other AL second basemen with 24 DRS. Aaron Hill, the top 2006 fielder, finished a distant second at 11 DRS, just ahead of Robinson Cano.
The Rawlings Award went to Placido Polanco. Polanco has been a historically strong fielder. He had a great 2006, and arguably deserved the 2006 GG, but he finished sixth in the LWZR rankings.
Dewan’s rankings were similar, with Hill and Ellis at the top, followed by Cano.
The Detroit Tigers traded for Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera. I cannot imagine they would play Cabrera at third. He’s an absolute butcher , with no disrespect intended toward butchers. What does that have to do with anything? The top LWZR third baseman in 2007 is the Tigers Brandon Inge. Inge was outstanding at third, just as he was in 2006. He isn’t getting noticed, but he posted a 15 DRS mark, and that’s a strong showing. He was followed by Melvin Mora, Mike Lowell, Eric Chavez and Adrian Beltre, all within a run or two, but 10 DRS behind Inge.
Adrian Beltre, who has been an excellent fielder his entire career, finally won the Rawlings Gold Glove.
Dewan’s Plus/Minus had Inge as the top fielder by a wide margin as well.
“Travis McGee’s still in Cedar Key” that’s what this year’s LWZR GG winner says. Toronto’s John McDonald had a great season with the glove. I’m noting that Orlando Hudson and Aaron Hill have gotten proper recognition – park effect? That’s for another time. McDonald’s performance, 13 DRS, was impressive mostly because he saved those runs in a bit over half a season (800 IP) at short. Maybe his chances were easier in that half season, but it’s not easy to compile numbers that high at any point in the season. Bobby Crosby was a close second with 11 DRS, also in ~800 IP. Of players with 1000 IP, Minnesota’s Jason Bartlett was tops (and third).
The Rawlings voters got off the Derek Jeter Love Train. They voted for Orlando Cabrera, who was fifth in LWZR with 5 DRS. He’s reasonably close to McDonald, and he did play 1300 innings, so that’s a decent selection.
In the Plus/Minus ratings, John McDonald was way out in front, Jason Bartlett and Tony Pena tied for second.
Speedster Carl Crawford lapped the field in LWZR with 18 DRS. The runner-ups, Craig Monroe and Shannon Stewart, were barely above average at 2-3 DRS. It is no big surprise; Crawford finished second last year to KC’s Emil Brown. For interested parties, Brown only played 500 innings in left, but had 3 DRS in that playing time.
The Gold Glove from the voters went to a centerfielder – three of them, so we’ll just cover those when we get to center.
Dewan also separates the outfield, and in left, he rated Toronto’s Adam Lind the highest. Lind also only played 650 innings, and had 6 DRS, which would have been good for third in an open LWZR category. He has Emil Brown as second, and no mention of Crawford. If you purchase the Bill James Handbook for 2008, you can see that the Fielding Bible Awards have Crawford as the top AL LF, pretty much across the board, but they don’t separate by league.
With the Rawlings Awards not distinguishing between the outfield positions, the voters and LWZR ought to match up at least once. I’ve got three shots. The Rawlings Awards went to Grady Sizemore, Torii Hunter and Ichiro Suzuki. These three all sound like good choices.
The LWZR Center Field Award goes to – Grady Sizemore with 13 DRS. Look, the traditional awards got one right! Vernon Wells and Coco Crisp were tied for second, followed by Curtis Granderson at 9 and 8 DRS, respectively. Suzuki was actually near the bottom of the ratings.
Dewan’s CF ratings had Crisp and Granderson neck and neck at the top.
In addition to a tremendous season at the plate, Magglio Ordonez also had a great year with the glove. He rated as the top LWZR RF with 11 DRS. That was a good margin above Vlad Guerrero at 4 DRS in second. Without limiting the innings required, Cleveland’s Franklin Gutierrez posted a 13 DRS, but sample size is important to LWZR.
Dewan doesn’t restrict playing time and has Gutierrez as the op Plus/Minus right fielder, followed by Alex Rios. Rios was fourth in LWZR, but a good distance from Maggs. There are a lot of Blue Jays in these rankings – maybe they are building a defensive juggernaut.
Catcher ratings are a little different because they don’t get m/any ZR chances to make that an appropriate rating for catchers. Catchers make errors and allow stolen bases, so their defensive ratings are built on that, but using the same “compared to average” structure.
Kenji Johjima was the tops in LWZR ratings at 13 DRS, followed by Joe Mauer. Mauer had a higher caught-stealing percentage, but Johjima caught 300 more innings and was all-around a very good catcher, including 15 double plays.
Naturally, the Rawlings Gold Glove went to Ivan Rodriguez.
Dewan doesn’t have a Plus/Minus for catchers, but the Fielding Bible Awards rated Mauer the highest and Johjima second.
Pos LWZR DRS Dewan DRS Rawlings DRS 1B Kotchman 12 Kotchman 12 Youkilis 3 2B Ellis 24 Hill 11 Polanco 2 3B Inge 15 Inge 15 Beltre 2 SS McDonald 13 McDonald 13 Cabrera 5 LF Crawford 18 Lind 6 Hunter 3 CF Sizemore 12 Crisp 9 Sizemore 12 RF Ordonez 11 Gutierrez 13 Suzuki -7 C Johjima 13 Mauer 9 Rodriguez 3
If LWZR and Dewan didn’t match, they were either a coin flip (Ellis/Hill), or just different requirements (Crawford/Lind, Gutierrez). We’ll see if the National League Awards line up as well.
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