Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers

Yet another repeat: Phillies shortstop Jimmy "J-Roll" Rollins and center fielder Shane "the Flyin' Hawaiian" Victorino have been named the National League Rawling's Gold Glove winners at their positions. Major League Baseball, by way of voting by league managers and coaches (though they can not vote for their own players), bestows the Gold Glove on the best fielder in each position in both leagues, and Jimmy has won his third in a row, while Shane has his second.

In the olden days of yore, the Gold Glove was most likely given to the player who committed the fewest errors and most helped his team intangibly with his fine defense. Today, such wacky stats as UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) and RF (Range Factor) are considered. UZR, developed by FanGraphs, determines the number of runs above or below average a fielder is by combining his rankings in "range runs," which quantifies how well a fielder is able to get to balls hit in his vicinity, and "error runs," which takes into account how many errors a fielder makes compared to an average fielder at the same position on the same amount of balls in play. Range Factor, meanwhile, was first developed in 1977 by statistician Bill James, and it represents the number of successful plays a fielder makes per game by combining putouts and assists and dividing that number by innings played. Sorta confusing, but just a more concrete way to more fairly give out the awards in this (slightly post?)-Money Ball era.

As far as the rest of the league goes, my man Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz was robbed behind the plate with the award going to the Cardinal's catcher Yadier Molina, winning his second straight Gold Glove after being an All-Star and compiling some mind-boggling stats, including an ERA of 3.48 for St. Louis pitching when he's the backstop. Also winning for the Cards is Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright, taking his first. The Dodger's Orlando "O-Dog" Hudson won it at second base (quit throwing balls into the stands Chase Utley!) and Matt Kemp won one of the three outfield awards. San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez won it a first base, beating Albert "Mr. Fucking Perfect" Pujols and a much improved Ryan "Soul Pole" Howard. Washington's Ryan Zimmerman took home his much-deserved first Gold Glove at third base with popularity contest winner, the Mets' David Wright, having an injury plagued season, because he is a Met. Lastly, the final outfield award went to ex-Phil and current Houston Astro, Michael Bourn. We all love Michael Bourn around here. He was the trade that brought Brad Lidge in as our closer, and he is speedy and dangerous and makes every play. Awesome player.

Over in the Junior Circuit, the Twins' Joe Mauer won at catcher, Yankees Mark "Happy Gilmore" Texiera at first base and Derek Jeter at shortstop, the Tiger's and ex-Phillie Placido "Jawbone" Polanco at second base, the Rays' Eva Longoria at third base, Angels' Torii Hunter, Mariner's Ichiro (of course), and B-More O's Adam Jones(!) took the three Gloves for the outfield, and Mark "Perfect Game" Buehrle won on the mound.

Over on the offensive side, only one Phil brings home any hardware. Second baseman Chase Utley won his fourth consecutive Silver Slugger award. He is the cream of the crop and an old school player, great career so far, great season and post-season. I'm glad he's on our side! In the American League, it was the Blue Jays Aaron Hill, who also won the A.L. Comeback Player of the Year Award. Of course Albert Pujols won it at first base, a very tough position and he won it over two guys with more R.B.I.'s than him... not exactly my credentials. But the Silver Slugger credentials are more varied than those of the Golden Glove. Batting average, runs batted in (my personal fave), home runs, slugging percentage, on base percentage, and on base plus slugging percentage! Which is the most important? Well, Albert led in all of 'em except R.B.I.'s. In the A.L. Mark Texiera has the 2009 matching set in Gold and Silver. Atlanta's Brian McCann won it for catcher, and if he hits off other teams like he hits off the Phillies, he deserves it. No surprise that Minnesota's Joe Mauer takes his third SS for the A.L. At shortstop, Florida's Hanley "Hanley, Hanley" Ramirez takes home his second consecutive, while Derek Jeter continues to pile up 2010 post season awards with his fourth Silver Slugger. Over at the hot corner, two SS newbies take the Silver Slugger, as they did the Gold Gloves, Tampa Bay's Longoria and Washington's Zimmerman. Out in the outfield, in the National League, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun gets his second straight while two young Dodger stars, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier both get their first. In the American League, Seattle's Ichiro takes his third trophy, and known glovesman, L.A. Angel's Torii Hunter gets his first, as does Boston veteran Jason Bay.

Congratulations to all winners, but most especially our Phillies! Great work boys!

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