MLB Awards: National League Gold Glove award suggestions
NL gold glove picks
The Gold Glove award is one of the premier awards in the game of baseball and in many ways it is the fairest. One's value to a team is subjective at the best of times and the whole team's performance has to be weighed when determining MVP. Most other awards like Cy Young and Rookie of the Year are of course only open to a section of players. But anyone skilled enough can win a Gold Glove; regardless of team or position.
It's not perfect, of course. It is still a subjective award and one that is voted on. All too often performance with the bat seems to play a part and players from larger, more prominent markets tend to be favoured. There is also the problem that there are few good defensive stats and certainly none of the type one can use to evaluate pitchers or hitters. The most common stat, the error, is actually actively misleading as it is both subjective and in fact tends to penalise better defenders more on average because they make difficult plays look easier than they are. But whilst those are problems they are not fatal ones and the Gold Glove is still a very prestigious award to win.
In the second of a two part post I will give my picks for the National League winners. As I did in the first, I am endeavouring to put aside the usual prejudice shown by voters toward 'big name' players and toward players who hit better. Only defensive attributes are taken into account.
Pitcher - Mark Buehrle
The perennial winner of the Gold Glove in the American League, Mark Buehrle took his sharp glovework to the National League this year and should win the honour there. His range and sure hands continued to impress as he led all NL pitchers in assists.
Catcher - Yadier Molina
Yadier Molina has won the award at catcher for the past several years and should do so again, albeit with stiffer than usual competition. Molina was one of only three catchers in the NL to catch more than 1,000 innings this season and in that time he allowed just 42 passed balls or wild pitches. This ratio was just barely worse than that of Miguel Montero, but Molina's superior caught stealing per cent wins him the award.
First Base - Joey Votto
A very solid first baseman with excellent range, Joey Votto comfortably led all National League first basemen in assists this year with 116. His chances will be hurt by the amount of time he missed this season, but ultimately he ranks well above all the other candidates and should win.
Second Base - Brandon Phillips
This is one that hardly needs saying. Brandon Phillips dazzled yet again with his range and athleticism at second base, seeming to put on a defensive clinic more often than not. There is some worry that his skill with the bat sways voters, but his glove is certainly good enough to win the award on its own merits.
Third Base - Chase Headley
The National League leader in assists and total zone runs at third base, Chase Headley is the best of a close field at third. He has good range, a good arm and is quite sure handed. There are a few worthy candidates, but Headley tends to get a bit unfairly overlooked and deserves to win.
Shortstop - Starlin Castro
Starlin Castro this year led all National League shortstops in assists, putouts and actually errors. But as discussed at the start, errors should not always be taken as a negative mark and Castro is one one of the quicker and more exciting shortstops in the NL. With good range and arm he should win the award this year.
Left Field - Jason Kubel
Jason Kubel was in the National League for the first time this year and led the entire league in outfield assists with 13. (Though this was not close to the major league lead.) He did this appearing in just 124 games as runners seemed unfamiliar with his strong arm. It is enough that he should win a Gold Glove for his efforts, though there is a good chance it will be a one-off.
Centre Field - Angel Pagan
With an honourable mention to Carlos Gomez who threw out nine runners in under 1,000 innings in centre field, the award goes to Angel Pagan. He covers the fairly large and oddly shaped outfield of AT&T Park brilliantly and threw out seven runners of his own, joint second amongst NL centre fielders.
Right Field - Jason Heyward
This is a very close call between Jason Heyward and Hunter Pence. Both had eleven assists from right field and both have shown some dazzling defence. But Heyward has the better range overall and thus gets the nod.