September 16, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) runs down a fly ball hit by Los Angeles Angels batter Albert Pujols (not pictured) during the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

The Gold Glove: A Royal Repeat?

Tomorrow the offseason awards announcements start with one that is very near and dear to my heart: the Gold Glove winners.

C’mon, you just knew I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to write about Alex Gordon.

The Kansas City Royals best player is a finalist again this season for the honor of being named best defensive player at his position*, and if you’re basing the vote off of all objective measures, it really isn’t close.

*presumably the best defensively player at his position, except for the people that vote for the award don’t watch all the games, and base their tally on offensive numbers too. See: Palmeiro, Rafael.

A couple days ago The Fielding Bible released their award winners and featured this little nugget about the Royals leftfielder:

“(Gordon) lapped the field with his 24 runs saved defensively, his nearest competitors being Martin Prado of Atlanta with 12 and Tampa Bay’s Desmond Jennings with 9 runs saved. Gordon was a unanimous choice for the 2012 Fielding Bible Award, finishing first on every single ballot cast by the panelists.”

No surprise really, to Royals fans, that Gordon gets the love he does with the advanced fielded metrics and to the highlight reel junkies. What is a surprise though is that Gordon actually improved defensively in 2012 over a season ago, which is almost remarkable when you consider the 2011 defensive campaign for Gordon could have been chalked up to a combination of luck and a perfect storm of events.

After posting a 10.5 UZR in 2011 – which was heavily weighted with his arm and ability to throw out runners – Gordon increased his overall numbers to a 14.1 UZR in 2012 thanks to a vast improvement in the one area that received the most criticism, his range (-2.1 RngR in 2011; 4.4 RngR in 2012).

And he would only figure to get better.  Gordon is entering his age 29 season and, after showing the type of durability that is more expected from a player of his level of athleticism and conditioning, we should only figure that he’ll continue to perform at the high level he’s been at the last two seasons. Plus, having yet another year under his belt at a new position could (hopefully) only lead to more good things to come.

Gordon should receive his second Gold Glove award when the announcements are made tomorrow. Now if we could only figure out how Alcides Escobar was left off the list of finalist for shortstops.

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Tags: Alex Gordon Fielding Bible Gold Glove Kansas City Royals

  • Bob Ellis

    Going by UZR as you did to show how good Gordon was, it’s easy to see why Escobar would be left off. To the naked eye (my eye, anyway) Escobar was simply amazing all year. But using Fangraphs, I sorted ML SS by fielding and saw Escobar near the bottom with a -12 UZR, ahead of only the aging Derek Jeter.

    For my money – Escobar is amazing…but rating purely by fielding metrics, he was less than impressive. Makes me wonder where the flaw is in these numbers, because he can’t be that bad, can he??

    • Eric Akers

      I agree that Escobar was amazing. I am positive that defensive metrics have some big issues. However, I have seen some days where Escobar had issues with plays that he should have gotten to. So while I believe he is better than his rating, I can see why he would be ranked lower that some of the other guys. But as a whole, all the defensive metrics seem to have some flaws that make them unreliable by themselves.

      • Bob Ellis

        Its definitely tricky to measure fielding with these metrics. At the same time it makes Escobar look bad (which he’s not), it makes Gordon look fantastic (which he is). I don’t know where the inconsistencies are, but there have to be some….

  • Inverted W Podcast

    Who would guess Scobee would write a positive review of Alex Gordon?