If you love baseball’s “silly season” during which baseball players routinely have the opportunity to injure themselves patting themselves and each other on the back, then the inaugural “Rawlings Gold Glove Awards Show” is just the thing for you. That’s right. ESPN has set aside a whole hour dedicated to an announcement that really shouldn’t take more than about 3 or 4 minutes at the most. Exactly how can the folks in Bristol stretch the announcement of 18 names into a 60 minutes show? It’s easy (see also, LeBron James). Simply send Karl Ravech, Barry Larkin, and John Kruk out in front of the cameras and let Kruk challenge Larkin to a chess match (best 3 out of 5). Seriously, there will probably be plenty of 20 second highlight reel clips of each finalist, and maybe there will be a really cool envelope delivered to the stage by some accounting nerd from the offices of Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe.
Honestly, an hour of “blah, blah, web gem, blah, blah” sounds about as much fun as being stuck in an elevator with Dane Cook and the cast of “The Hills”. Unfortunately, I’m a sucker for Gold Glove awards, because I anticipate Yadier Molina‘s name being called. Yes, I will sit through 60 minutes of sonic torture just to hear the Krukie Kruk and the Fun Bunch rave on and on about Molina. Before it comes to that, I feel like making some uneducated guesses about who will win.
To help me with the uneducated guesses, we have the “Abner Doubleday Predicto-o-Matic 3000″ which I used last year to correctly predict 7 of the 9 Gold Glove winners in the NL.
- Predicted winner – Mark Buehrle. Both Haren and Carmona went the entire season without committing an error, so that gives them a slight edge over Buehrle who was charged with 1 error in 2011. However, neither Haren nor Carmon cover as much ground as Buehrle does or are as aggressive as Buehrle is when it comes to taking charge defensively. Victory goes to the aggressor.
- Predicted winner – Matt Wieters. Wieters threw out 37% (34 of 92) would-be base stealers versus just 20% for Pierzynski and 32% for Avila. Enough said.
- Predicted winner – Adrian Gonzalez. A-Gon was by far the best defensive first baseman in baseball in 2011, and that says a lot when his competition includes Tex. Gonzalez made playing the position look far too easy, and he had by far the best range of any AL player at the position. Someone may need to explain to me how Kotchman made this list over Mark Trumbo.
- Predicted winner – Dustin Pedroia. This might be the closest race to call, but the nod goes to Pedroia for his superior range and ability to minimize errors.
- Predicted winner – J.J. Hardy. Hardy is by far the class of the field, especially when that field of finalists does NOT include Alexei Ramirez or Jhonny Peralta. Hardy’s primary advantage over his competition here is his footwork which helps compensate for a lack of range when compared to shortstops like Elvis Andrus and Alcides Escobar.
- Predicted winner - Adrian Beltre. It’s really a two horse race between Longo and Beltre here, and I picked Beltre for his ability to make the spectacular play. That’s a pretty thin explanation, but there really isn’t much that separates the two. Longoria played a lot more innings, but he did have a slight advantage in terms of having a first baseman who could really scoop with the best of them.
- Predicted winner – Brett Gardner. Gordon has the cannon where his arm should be, but nobody covers ground like Gardner in left field. Gardner isn’t likely to rack up the assists like Gordon can, but it doesn’t really matter when you take away as many hits as he does. Fuld doesn’t get all the consideration that he probably should this time around, but it’s hard to compare someone who only played a little over 600 innings against two guys who played over 1100 each.
- Predicted winner – Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury really does have a minus arm, but he’s got speed to burn. If I had to pick a 2nd place guy here, it would have to be Bourjos. He and Jackson are pretty much equal, except Bourjos can throw darts from the warning track.
- Predicted winner – Jeff Francoeur. Big upset here for some people, but these 3 guys are about as even as 3 guys can get in terms of defensive ability. The difference maker in my mind is Francoeur’s projectile launcher that doubles as an arm. It’s hard to go against Hunter based on his history, but he’s lost at least a step and come back to the rest of the field finally.
- Predicted winner – Kyle Lohse. With Lohse on the mound, 67% of would-be base stealers were thrown out which probably says as much about Lohse as it does about some guy named Yadier Molina. However, it says something that there were only 3 attempts made all season. Lohse does a great job controlling the running game, and he’s a pretty good athlete who can cover a fair amount of ground.
- Predicted winner - Yadier Molina. This could actually be a lot closer vote than some realize. Molina had by far his worst season in terms of throwing out runners attempting to steal, and he was only successful 29% of the time. Fortunately for Yadi, both McCann (22%) and Ruiz (23%) were even worse.
- Predicted winner - Joey Votto. Votto gets my vote here simply because he covers more ground at 1st base than just about anyone else in the NL, and he does so with ease. As a bonus, he also is a serious workhorse, logging 1427 2/3 innings in the field.
- Predicted winner – Brandon Phillips. Phillips is the complete defensive package at second base, because he can cover a huge area and still make reasonably good throws to 1st base. He’s helped by having a great glove man on the receiving end of those throws, but Phillips is savvy enough to know when he can take advantage of Votto’s ability to snag errant throws.
- Predicted winner – Troy Tulowitzki. Of the 3 finalists, Tulo probably has the best hands, and keeping his error total in the single digits may be the deciding factor. I don’t know how Clint Barmes was left off the list, though.
- Predicted winner. Pablo Sandoval. I picked Polanco last year and got burned, so I’m shying away from him here. Beside, the race between Polanco and Sandoval is too close to call. Sandoval’s chances here could be impacted by his error total when compared to Polanco’s total, because I believe some people do still look at fielding percentage. As much as I like Descalso as a player, I honestly don’t think he belongs on this list. He only played a fraction of the innings that the other finalists played, and didn’t bring quite the same value on defense as either Sandoval or Polanco. However, it is great to see that someone appreciates his glove work at 3rd base.
- Predicted winner – Gerardo Parra. This shouldn’t even be close. Parra has great range and a pretty good arm as well, and he is probably the most complete left fielder in the NL. Maybe the old saying “he plays great defense, but he didn’t hit well enough to win a Gold Glove” still applies here. That’s the only reason I can see for Alfonso Soriano being left off this list.
- Predicted winner – Chris Young. The only other CF in Young’s class is Cameron Maybin, and he isn’t even a finalist. Young lacks the power arm of a Kemp and the reputation of a Victorino, but he is absolutely the class of the field.
- Predicted winner – Andre Ethier. The finalist selection for this one is puzzling at best. All 3 finalists posted negative dWAR figures, and I don’t think of any of them as having great range. No Justin Upton or Jason Heyward? Really? I didn’t make the list; I can only ridicule it. Ethier is probably the best all-around RF of the finalists, and he covers a bit more ground than Beltran or Bruce.
I don’t know what criteria were used for selecting finalists, but I’m already of the opinion that some tweaks need to be made. However, I do like the new twist of having a list of finalists as a means of narrowing the field to a small number of candidates. I’m also hugely in favor of separating the outfielders into their respective positions instead of just choosing 3 outfielders and ending up with 3 centerfielders sweep the awards.
Agree with me? Disagree? Bring. It. On. The “Abner Doubleday Predict-o-Matic 3000″ is up to the challenge. Besides, there are really no wrong answers here.
Follow gr33nazn on Twitter for more uneducated guesses!