Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
Maddux Wins Gold Glove
by alex ciepley
Greg Maddux won his fourteenth gold glove today, the second most of any pitcher in baseball history. I won a poetry award in college twice in a row way back when, but other than that, I don't know that I've ever won anything more than once. In fact, I usually don't win anything at all.
Did Maddux deserve it? Gold Gloves are flakey awards, often given either out of habit (I-Rod) or cluelessness (Jeter). Maddux, however, has kept up appearances despite his age, and continues to be an outstanding fielder. I took a look at Baseball Prospectus' fielding stat, Runs Above Replacement (RAR), which shows how many runs a fielder saved over a replacement-level fielder at that position. Looking at the usual suspects in the NL:
There might be a pitcher or two I missed when looking at these stats, but these are generally some of the better fielding pitchers in the league. Glavine looks to have "outdone" Maddux by one run this time 'round, but knowing the general weirdness of fielding stats and what my subjective eyes tell me when watching the fielders at work, it seems completely reasonable to give Maddux the award.
The Cubs had, in my mind, two other contenders for Gold Gloves on their team. Derrek Lee is commonly considered an elite fielder, but he was beaten out this year by Todd Helton. I'll run the numbers again, though this time I'll add in Fielding Win Shares as an additional category.
1B WS RAR -------------------------- Todd Helton 4.0 27 Derrek Lee 3.6 18 Albert Pujols 2.1 20
Most of the other NL first baseman royally sucked in at least one of these two stats, so I narrowed it down to these three. Considering that Helton led by sizable margins in both stats, it's probably safe to say he was worthy of the award this year. This doesn't take anything away from Lee, who still has to be considered one of baseball's best fielding first baseman.
The other Cub I'd consider is Corey Patterson. Patterson was often praised by Steve Stone (bless 'im), and he certainly looked awesome in center this year, smoothly running down balls and making accurate throws to the bases. Usual suspects Andruw Jones and Jim Edmonds won Gold Gloves this year, as well as comeback kid Steve Finley. I took a look at all the outfielders in the NL (plus Carlos Beltran's combined stats from K.C. and Houston), and here's the leaderboard:
OF WS RAR -------------------------- Andruw Jones 7.4 26 Jim Edmonds 6.5 29 Corey Patterson 6.3 22 Carlos Beltran* 6.1 22 Mike Cameron 5.9 20 ==== Steve Finley 4.8 12
Patterson's numbers bear it out: he was one of the best outfielders in the league this past year. If Corey had lost out to Mike Cameron, I wouldn't object in the slightest. Cameron, despite an off year, is one of the best in the biz. Losing to Steve Finley, though? That sucks. Finley wasn't even close to the league leaders.
There have certainly been greater injustices in the world, though, so I'm not really aflutter over Patterson's snub. He can just take on the usual Cub mantra, and wait 'til... you know the rest.