Let’s begin with the assumption that the voting process for the Gold Glove awards is horribly flawed and a complete joke. If you don’t agree with this assumption, then go pat Derek Jeter on the back for winning a Gold Glove about 14 years past his defensive prime. It’s not that I don’t like Jeter, it’s just that I think there are at least 2 players on his team who could play better SS than he can. Anyway, some players may play absolute stellar defense for 2 years and win the award the 3rd year which happens to be their worst defensive year of the three. There’s a significant lapse or delay between the time a player starts playing great defense and the point at which that player’s reputation matches performance. That’s plain wrong, and it’s time to stop it. Let’s get it right the first time around, because some of these guys only have a few years at their peak. Here are some ways I would suggest we improve the process for both the players and the fans.
- Make all ballots completely public. Transparency is a big issue, and it would be nice to know which voters are actually paying attention, so we can ridicule the ones who aren’t bothering to make an effort.
- Announce the winners prior to the first game of the playoffs. It’s ridiculous to make everyone wait. As it is now, I think most voters already have their minds made up anyway, so why bother with the charade? Also, announce the AL and NL winners on the same day.
- Eliminate most of the names from the ballot using advanced statistics. Heck, let’s call those statistics “sabermetrics” for lack of a better term. First, let’s eliminate players by the number of total chances. Each position should have a minimum to qualify which is based on a percentage of the highest number any player has at a given position. Let’s say something like 60%. Further reduce the number by eliminating players with fielding percentages below .975, UZRs below a specific value, ZRs below another specific value and so on. Tack on a few bonus points for assists or double plays and extra bonus points for diving headlong into a beer vendor or injuring a rib while colliding with a bird of prey.
- Make a highlight and a lowlight reel of each player’s 10 best and 10 worst plays of the year. Force each voter to watch the entire reel.
- Don’t allow a voter to vote for a player in his own division. Currently, voters cannot vote for players on their own team. That’s fine, but they still see players within their own division an awful lot more than they see players from other divisions. Bias is naturally going to occur. Eliminate as much of that as possible by preventing voters from voting for players in their own divisions.
- Weight the voting process and allow NL voters to cast votes for AL players and AL voters to cast votes for NL players. Votes count for 1/2 as much when cast across leagues, but then you eliminate even more bias (except for a small bias introduced via interleague play). On the other hand, increasing the voting pool should increase the voting sample size enough to cancel that effect as well.
- Split the outfield into 3 separate positions. It really isn’t fair to compare LF to CF to RF, because the positions are greatly different. Sure, a CF has to cover more ground, but the LF and RF have to deal with weird corners and more walls. Park dimensions and shapes vary greatly, so opportunities for assists vary from park to park and one league to another.
- Use the aforementioned changes to form 1 voting component and add baseball writers as another voting component with similar rules about who they can vote for. Weight the voting 2:1 in favor of the current voters.
Maybe I’ve oversimplified things a bit here, but it just seems like the process is too tainted as it is. Younger players don’t seem to get enough consideration, and far too many declining players when their 8th or 10th in a row based on reputation alone it seems. If the average fan perceives that the difference maker between two players is offensive production, then there is a serious perception problem. While most of us are thrilled to see our home team’s players win the award, we’re also mature enough to admit that we don’t like seeing a more deserving player robbed of it at the same time. I remember Ozzie Smith winning the last of his Gold Gloves and thinking that it really was time to pass the torch already. It was disappointing as a fan, but I didn’t want him to continue winning on reputation alone without the performance to back it up.
Got a better idea and dislike feedback forms? Share it with me on Twitter.