Grading the 2013 MLB Gold Glove Award Selections

Joe GiglioContributor IOctober 29, 2013

Grading the 2013 MLB Gold Glove Award Selections

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    MLB's 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners have been announced during an hourlong announcement show on ESPN 2. Now, let the debate begin.

    The top three finalists were announced at each position last week, setting the stage for the top vote-getters to wait for the decision over the weekend.

    For the first time in history, a sabermetrics component went into the voting. With the historic agreement between Rawlings Sporting Goods Company Inc. and the Society for American Baseball Research, voting changed in a drastic way.

    With the dust settled, hardware now belongs to nine outstanding fielders in each league. Did the voters get it right? How much of a difference did the numbers make to past winners? Were the winners truly deserving?

    After projecting the Gold Glove winners last week, let's grade the actual selections based on the entire body of work in the 2013 season.

Catcher

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    AL Finalists

    Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles
    Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
    Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

    AL Gold Glove winner: Salvador Perez

    In what could be the first of many defensive awards, Royals catcher Salvador Perez captured the AL Gold Glove over Mauer and Wieters. His strong throwing arm, range behind the plate and outstanding work with the Royals staff made the 23-year-old deserving of the honor.

    Grade: A

     

    NL Finalists

    Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
    A.J. Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Russell Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates

    NL Gold Glove winner: Yadier Molina

    At this point in Molina's career, it's an upset if he doesn't take home the Gold Glove. Blessed with amazing instincts, a strong and accurate arm and the ability to help young pitchers grow into stars, Molina is like having a coach on the field. Martin had a great year for Pittsburgh, but every other catcher in the NL is playing for second place here.

    Grade: A

First Base

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    AL Finalists

    James Loney, Tampa Bay Rays
    Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
    Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

    AL Gold Glove winner: Eric Hosmer

    Two positions, two Gold Gloves for the Kansas City Royals. As you can tell, part of the reason for their excellent run prevention was a dynamic defense. In total, five Royals (Perez, Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon) were among finalists.

    Even if a Gold Glove hadn't been awarded to any, five fielders in the top three of voting at their position is outstanding. My vote was for Loney, but Hosmer's emergence, both offensively and defensively, was obvious in 2013.

    Grade: B

     

    NL Finalists

    Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
    Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

    NL Gold Glove winner: Paul Goldschmidt

    On Sunday, Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was honored with the 2013 Hank Aaron Award. He can now add a Gold Glove to his trophy case. By next week, that case could include the NL MVP trophy. Rizzo was my choice, but defense wasn't the best attribute of NL first baseman in 2013.

    Grade: B

Second Base

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    AL Finalists

    Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
    Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
    Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

    AL Gold Glove winner: Dustin Pedroia

    Just to be clear: The voting for the Gold Glove took place before the World Series. Thus, Pedrioa's dominant defensive display didn't sway the voting in his favor. Instead, this award was won on the merit of an outstanding regular season.

    Grade: A

     

    NL Finalists

    Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs
    Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
    Mark Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers

    NL Gold Glove winner: Brandon Phillips

    In a major upset, Phillips took home the award over Darwin Barney. As ESPN's Mark Simon pointed out on Twitter, Phillips had a number of highlight-reel plays during the season, but Barney had the ability to get to more balls. In this case, the voters got it wrong.

    Grade: D

Shortstop

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    AL Finalists

    Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals
    Yunel Escobar, Tampa Bay Rays
    J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles

    AL Gold Glove winner: J.J. Hardy

    When the Baltimore Orioles acquired J.J. Hardy prior to the 2011 season, it was easy to see why. Up to that point, the 27-year-old shortstop had averaged 20 home runs per 162 games played. His power was evident, but it's his Gold Glove defense that has made him even more valuable to the Baltimore cause. Escobar was my prediction, but Hardy is not a bad choice.

    Grade: B

     

    NL Finalists

    Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals
    Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
    Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves

    NL Gold Glove winner: Andrelton Simmons

    Honestly, despite how good Desmond and Tulowitzki are in the field, any choice other than Simmons would have garnered a failing grade. The young Braves shortstop had one of the best defensive seasons in the history of baseball. On a nightly basis, it seemed that Simmons literally changed the game on defense.

    Grade: A

Third Base

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    AL Finalists

    Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
    Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
    Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

    AL Gold Glove winner: Manny Machado

    While J.J. Hardy is good enough to win a Gold Glove at shortstop, the best defensive player on the left side of Baltimore's infield resides less than 90 feet to his right. Manny Machado, a natural shortstop, hasn't just excelled since a late 2012 move to third base; he's dominated the position. In my opinion, Longoria and Beltre are Hall of Fame-caliber defensive talents, but Machado bested them this year.

    Grade: A

     

    NL Finalists

    Juan Uribe, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
    David Wright, New York Mets

    NL Gold Glove winner: Nolan Arenado

    As Mark Simon of ESPN pointed out, Arenado is the sixth different NL Gold Glove third baseman over the last six years. Following up the quintet of David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, Scott Rolen, Placido Polanco and Chase Headley isn't easy, but Arenado deserved it after a quietly excellent season at the hot corner in Coors Field.

    Grade: A

Left Field

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    AL Finalists

    Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
    Andy Dirks, Detroit Tigers
    Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics

    AL Gold Glove winner: Alex Gordon

    Gordon's third straight AL Gold Glove puts him in rare company among great Royals defensive outfielders. As the team pointed out on Twitter, Amos Otis (1971, '73-74) is the only other Kansas City outfielder to win the award three different times. In similar fashion to the first two awards for Gordon, it was well-deserved.

    Grade: A

     

    NL Finalists

    Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates
    Eric Young Jr., New York Mets
    Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

    NL Gold Glove winner: Carlos Gonzalez 

    Despite missing 52 games, Gonzalez captured his third Gold Glove. The Rockies left fielder is an excellent defensive presence in the expansive Coors Field outfield, but Marte profiled to me as the best of the group in 2013. Gonzalez's reputation precedes him, possibly altering the outcome here. On a day-to-day basis, Marte was the more dynamic fielder in 2013.

    Grade: C

Center Field

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    AL Finalists

    Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox 
    Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
    Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals

    AL Gold Glove winner: Adam Jones

    As noted earlier, a sabermetrics component was part of the 2013 voting process. Considering that Adam Jones posted a negative defensive runs saved (calculated by Baseball Info Solutions), I considered his inclusion in the top three to be puzzling. His eventual victory was stunning. Jacoby Ellsbury was the better fielder in 2013, and it wasn't even close. Ellsbury had 13 DRS. Jones had minus-two. 

    Grade: D

     

    NL Finalists

    Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
    Denard Span, Washington Nationals
    Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

    NL Gold Glove winner: Carlos Gomez

    Honestly, the only contender worthy of consideration behind Gomez wasn't even listed among the finalists. After watching and covering the 2013 Mets for Bleacher Report and WFAN in New York, Juan Lagares would have been a worthy candidate behind Gomez, but even he couldn't have bested the Brewers center fielder.

    Grade: A

Right Field

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    AL Finalists

    Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles
    Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox
    Josh Reddick, Oakland Athletics

    AL Gold Glove winner: Shane Victorino 

    As I pointed out in my Gold Glove predictions, no right fielder in the AL saved more runs than Victorino's 24. Boston correctly guessed that Victorino's career—and defensive prowess—would be invigorated by a move from center field to right field. His ability to provide the Red Sox with excellent defense in a difficult right field at Fenway Park added wins to the ledger during a worst-to-first comeback story. 

    Grade: A

     

    NL Finalists

    Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds
    Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves
    Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks

    NL Gold Glove winner: Gerardo Parra

    Right field in the National League was the most difficult choice among the positions in 2013. While Parra was the correct choice, Heyward may have won the award if not for an injury that cost him more than a month, and Bruce is perennially one of the best right fielders in the National League.

    Barring a rise to prominence from a right field prospect or leap in defense from Giancarlo Stanton in Miami, don't be surprised if these three fill the ballot next season.

    Grade: A

Pitcher

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    AL Finalists

    Doug Fister, Detroit Tigers
    Mark Buehrle, Toronto Blue Jays
    R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays

    AL Gold Glove winner: R.A. Dickey

    Move over, Buehrle. After years of fielding dominance on the pitcher's mound, the Blue Jays left-hander was bested by a teammate in R.A. Dickey. After watching the Blue Jays closely, from early-season contender to abject disaster, Dickey didn't get enough credit for following up a Cy Young season with a stellar defensive year on the mound. Now, he has the recognition he deserved.

    Grade: A

     

    NL Finalists

    Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
    Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
    Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers

    NL Gold Glove winner: Adam Wainwright

    After the announcement of finalists was released last week, Wainwright seemed to foreshadow a victory when speaking to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. 

    "It's a tremendous honor," Wainwright said. "Any type of award like that that you can win is just a resume chip. You can always look back and say you did it. The guys who are listed on that list with me ... it's a very talented list. I'm glad to be a part of it."

    2013 turned out to comprise a very, very talented list.

    Grade: B

     

    What did you think of the 2013 Gold Glove winners? 

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