If nobody cared about postseason awards, nobody would complain about them. But people do care about awards and recognition for their favorite players and so, when those players do not receive awards and recognition, they complain.
The Gold Gloves are an everlasting part of the game - win a GG once, it is on your resume forever. In recent years, the inanity of the voting process turned the once-revered Gold Gloves into something of a laughing stock. The best hitters miraculously won awards for fielding year after year.
All this makes it difficult to care about the Gold Gloves, which sucks because people really want to care about the Gold Glove. I want to care about the Gold Gloves. Finally, it is beginning to look like it's safe to care and celebrate a Gold Glove victory once again.
The Gold Gloves, and their sponsor, Rawlings, seem determined to remove this stigma by introducing a more transparent and credible process for selecting the winners. They began announcing finalists in 2011, with a proper televised unveiling to better leverage this branded stronghold.
This year marks the first time the Gold Gloves will include a "sabrmetrics component" in deciding the winner. Rawlings and SABR developed a new metric for "apples-to-apples" comparison between players.
The results, as seen in the finalists below, look a little better than votes in the past. Players who are not household names like Lorenzo Cain are eligible despite more pedestrian offensive numbers.
Looking over the list, the American League third base crop stands out as one of the deepest, with Manny Machado as the strong favorite. Adrian Beltre and Evan Longroia are dynamic third baseman and defensive whizzes Brett Lawrie and Josh Donaldson are on the outside looking in. Third base looks more and more like a defense-first position when you consider these names.
The surest lock of all is Andrelton Simmons as National League shortstop winner. The man made a believer out of all who watched him this season, putting his cannon arm and unbelievable range on display seemingly every time he took the field. He is certainly the best fielder in the game today.
Hopefully the voters take their vote seriously enough that fans of all teams can, in their heart of hearts, admit the right player got the award more often than not.
My picks (AL/NL by position number):
- Mark Buehrle/Zack Grienke
- Matt Wieters/Yadi Molina
- James Loney/Anthony Rizzo
- Dustin Pedroia/Darwin Barney
- Manny Machado/Juan Uribe
- J.J. Hardy/Andrelton Simmons
- Alex Gordon/Starling Marte
- Lorenzo Cain/Carlos Gomez
- Shane Victorino/Gerardo Perra