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Gold Gloves tarnished by "popular" vote

By November 9, 2008

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Here's a trivia question with which you can stump your friends. Who has the most Gold Glove awards all-time?

Ozzie Smith? Nope. Brooks Robinson? No, but close.

It's pitcher Greg Maddux, who won his 18th last week.

Now Maddux (or Jim Kaat, who had 16) will never come up on a list of the best fielders of all time. They only played once every four or five days, and fielding is something that pitchers rarely - if ever - work on outside of spring-training drills. But Rawlings gives out Gold Gloves for pitchers, so Maddux wins them, basically by default, because he has the reputation. He made three errors in 33 games this past season for a .961 fielding average, which wasn't even close to best in the league.

And there's the rub on the Gold Gloves: It's like homecoming queen and senior class president - a popularity contest. Many of the same players win every single year. That's no knock on Maddux or Torii Hunter, who won for the eighth consecutive year, but fielding isn't as measurable as hitting because of the concept of range in the field.

And in a weird way, as ESPN.com's Rob Neyer pointed out, the fans care more about the award than the people who vote on it.

Meyer's biggest beef is with Rangers shortstop Michael Young, who won in the AL this year by improving his fielding percentage from .972 to .984. That's nice, but the Rangers would actually like to move Young to second base or third base because his range is suspect. And now this award will make it tougher to argue to move Young to a new spot.

So Rawlings gave out a Gold Glove to a guy who doesn't have good enough range to play shortstop in the future on a losing team.

Check out who else won 2008 Gold Glove awards. And Gold Gloves all-time.

(An aside: Maddux hasn't been heard from since the award. He's a free agent, and in Hawaii, and MLB.com reported that the 355-game winner is seriously considering retirement.)


November 9, 2008 at 5:49 pm
(1) Stuart Fleischer says:

Scott –

You really should do a little homework before you make your opinions. Greg Maddux is an amazing fielder and this year he was as stellar as always. He is like a fifth infielder at all times.

Let me inform you about his 2008 statisitics. Because of his cat like qualities and range, he had 77 chances even though he pitched only 194 innings. The only other pitcher in the National League who had over 60 chances was Brandon Webb who had 74 chances (2 errors) and he pitched 32.2 innings more than Maddux. Also, Maddux started 4 double plays, tied for the league lead for pitchers.

Greg Maddux is clearly one of the most all around pitchers ever. He won 4 straight Cy Youngs in the 1990′s, won 355 games, was definitely the best fielding pitcher ever, could handle the bat pretty well for a pitcher (has a lifetime .171 average and probably the best bunting pitcher ever) and he could run the bases well (has 11 career stolen bases including one in 2008 at the age of 42).

Again, please do your homework before you make your outlandish comments. He fielded his position as well as Ozzie Smith and Brooks Robinson fielded their positions but he did it so quietly and modestly that you never realized it.

He will be truly missed should he decide to quietly retire during this off season.

Stu Fleischer

November 10, 2008 at 9:40 am
(2) Adam Rothschild says:

You are right about the popularity contest. It’s best bat with good glove not gold glove.
Too bad Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t own a spot in the red sox outfield. His glove and the wheels attached to it were amazing. He hasn’t made an error in his career.
The diving catches he made this year were better than anyone else’s you can choose from about 30 of them. He was incredible. Although The sox will probably give Crisp more chances in 2009. I hope someone put a compilation of great grabs because he had plenty

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