Toronto Blue Jays fans have known all year that Colby Rasmus has been one of the best center fielders in the AL this season, and even if he might not be the very best department, to put him outside of the top-three would have been a stretch.
Apparently, the voting body for the Gold Glove awards disagree.
That, or perhaps they just happen to be very big fans of Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who somehow made the finalist list alongside defensive stalwarts Lorenzo Cain and Jacoby Ellsbury. After all, it’s not like the numbers agree, even if defensive metrics are far from perfect: at 4.4 fielding runs below average over 1394 innings in center, Jones rank 13th out of 14 qualifying center fielders (minimum 700 innings) in the AL.
As for his dWAR? It’s mostly the same picture, as his 0.4 puts him 14th out of 20 players who played over 50 percent of their games out at center.
In comparison, Rasmus has earned a second-ranked 12.9 fielding runs above average over 1002.2 innings and a fourth-ranked 1.6 dWAR, making the only real knocks against him (as least as far as numbers are concerned) the four errors he’s committed on the year and his .987 fielding percentage, which ranks him at 12th for both.
Still, as fielding errors often have to do with a player’s range, it’s not an entirely accurate picture of how well Rasmus has played defensively, yes? Okay, so he did make two throwing errors compared to zero for Cain and Ellsbury, but Jones, despite note having as much range, still made a throwing and fielding error himself, so you’d think those “counting numbers” wouldn’t be enough to mitigate the advanced metrics.
Unfortunately, those metrics only count for 25 percent of the voting this year, which means that the rest still relies on the managers around the league and their coaches.
In short, it’s based on a whole lot of eye tests, and it’s there where Rasmus’ deceiving range and closing speed on the ball might actually put him at a disadvantage. To put it more simply, that the bluebirds’ center fielder makes difficult plays look routine could actually have gone against his candidacy this season as it often looks like he’s making very little effort.
Not that showmanship truly counts as long as the play is being made, but that he’s not often seen making catches at full sprint might give something of a false impression of a lack of aplomb.
Whether it’s this impression or some of the counting numbers (likely a combination of both) that led Rasmus to miss out on a Gold Glove, it’s a little bit of a bittersweet ending to 2013 given that his defensive play this season was a major reason for his career-best 4.8 fWAR season, and the reason why the Blue Jays should be looking to make him a long-term part of the team’s core.
Even if it were the case that Cain and Ellsbury are better candidates, that Jones was included among the finalists at least shows that there’s still a few things to work on when it comes to Gold Glove voting. No, Rasmus might not have been the very best defensively at his position in 2013, but he was good enough to deserve the nod.