Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Gold Glove Shortstop Ranks Poorly on Fielding Measures

The American League Gold Glove Awards were announced today and the most criticized selection of the day has been, not surprisingly, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter winning his fifth gold glove award.  I'm going to examine this choice by averaging the results of four defensive measures as I did for third basemen earlier in the week.  The four measures are as follows:

Defensive Runs Saved (DRS)
Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR)
Total Zone (TZ)
Fans Survey Runs (FSR)

For all of the above measures, the result is the estimated number of runs that a player saved/cost his team with his fielding compared to an average player at his position.  The DRS, UZR and FSR metrics can be found at FanGraphs.com.  TZ for 2010 is at Baseball-reference.com

The table below lists all shortstops with 1,000 or more innings in 2010.  Jeter was below average on all measures: -13 on DRS, -5 on UZR and -10 on TZ.  Even Yankees fans ranked him at -9.  The average of the ranks is -9 which indicates that he cost his team an estimated 9 runs with his glove compared to the average shortstop.  Only Royals shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (-14) and Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins (-11) ranked lower.

Table 1: Aggregating Fielding Measures for Shortstops in 2010

Jeter winning the Gold Glove while ranking low on the metrics is not a new phenomenon.  He won three Gold Gloves from 2004-2006 despite doing poorly by most defensive metrics.  I've  seen a couple people point the finger at the mainstream media for their choices, but they aren't the ones who select the Gold Glove Award winners.

Instead it's the managers and coaches who vote for this award.  A couple of years ago, Jim Leyland admitted that some managers don't like to give the award to weak hitters.  Rafael Palmeiro won the award in 1999 playing mostly as a DH and only 28 games at first base.  That there should tell you how seriously we should take the voting. 

Other highlights:

The top shortstops in the game in 2010 according to the metrics were Brendan Ryan of the Cardinals (+16), Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies (+12) and Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox (+12).

The statistics disagreed most on Betancourt, although all them had him below average:  He was just -2 on TZ but was -25, -21, -10 on the other numbers. 

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