Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gold Glove Prospects

Okay, we're at the midpoint of the season and everybody is talking about who has made the All-Star team, or who was dissed, or who will be traded at the trading deadline. But we're going to talk about fielders. Yes, fielders! And even Prince Fielder, too. We're going to discuss who is fielding their position well at the half way point of the year and should be in the discussion for winning a Gold Glove (or Silver Mitt to us) if they continue their prowess til October.

We're using our Field Value rating system to do this and not discounting those who haven't played a ton of innings at their position, which we'd do if this was an end of the year yammer, but we're going to give some love to the under innings guys, too. Field Value takes into account a number of factors, and like much in the baseballevaluation universe compares those factors to the maximum value and the average value to determine where the player sits amongst his peers. There are different maximums, as far as Field Value goes, for each position. The categories include Innings Played, Fielding Percentage, Range Factor, and Catching Caught Stealing Percentage plus Assists per 9 Innings Played for Outfielders.

So, here goes!

There's a changing of the guard at some positions, most notably at shortstop due to the injury to Rollins in Philadelphia, but for the most part you'll recognize the names involved. So let's start out at catcher. Those Molina's do a great job, and at the midpoint of 2010, it is not Yadier who lands at the top of the list (he's #3), but Jose. No, Jose, has not played a ton, only 211.7 innings thus far, but his perfect fielding percentage plus 0.647 Caught stealing percentage is just fantastic! Now, if this were the end of the year, Yadier would have to take the cake (yes, he should be Gold Glove, just not the All-Star starter), but we're giving the nod right now to Jose.

There's nothing much to say about the position at first, but when you're talking about first sackers, not only at the plate, but in the field, the conversation really does start with Albert. He has range, 10.628 per 9 IP, picks it clean, an is durable. Notable right behind him is his counterpart in the American League, Justin Morneau. Kinda shocking to us, because we don't think of him in this fielding light, is #3. But Prince Fielder is having a good season in the fields of Milwaukee, picking it at a 0.999 clip, although his range does not measure up to the other two.

You could be looking at an MVP candidate and Gold Glove winner in Robinson Cano. Yes, he's really that good, although grand fielder Brandon Phillips will make the case for himself and steady Eddie, David Eckstein, does lack range, but gets the job done.

There are fielders at third base many think of as the head of the class. For the young, they think of David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, and Evan Longoria. For the veterans, it might be Scott Rolen. And all four are very good. However, this year, two unlikely fielders, relatively new to their position, are making claims for Gold. Jhonny Peralta is fielding at a 0.995 percentage and just below 3.000 Range Factor. (I know, that seems to small, but there are only 27 outs in a game and nine positions to claim those Assists, Putouts, and Errors). Placido Polanco, Gold Glove worthy at 2nd base for years, may not have the strongest arm of the bunch, but he gets to a lot of balls and handles them clean.

Troy Tulowitski has been one of the best fielders in the game since he came on the scene several years ago, but for some reason, is thought of as a good fielder, not great. We disagree. Perhaps it's his size, lack of spectacular quickness, or fielding humidor balls, but with a Range Factor of 5.420 and steady glove, he's Gold Glove worthy. This might be the year with Rollins on the Disabled List for part of it. And although many disagree, including players, about Rollin's range. We think it's okay; most think it's great. There's no denying that a Colorado masher might just gain a little bling sometime soon.

Outfielders who roam the tarmac of grass and win Gold Gloves usually do so from centerfield, and that's the case this year for the top three. Franklin Gutierrez, Michael Bourn, and Torii Hunter all posess the speed and glove to win Gold this year as Hunter has done for many in the past. We think Torii might even be doing this better than he has in the past. Bourn adds a solid arm dimension to the position. Gutierrez might just have the best range of the bunch.

So there you have it. One small discussion in July about Gold while others talk about Cliff Lee moving to New York.