Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Why not call it 'award for the top 3 CF's'?

Recently (as in last week) the Gold Glove Award winners for each league were announced (3 and 4 November, to be exact. I know, I'm slacking - work has been a bitch lately). I don't pay attention to the American League, as it is an inferior league - and don't think I'm not enjoying the fact that that opinion has a lot more credibility since my Cardinals hung a Tiger head on the wall - take THAT, AL homers! But in the NL, I noticed something interesting:

Gold Glove OF: Andruw Jones, Mike Cameron, Carlos Beltran.

Hmmmm. Those guys all play center.

According to their website, Rawlings established the Gold Glove to "recognize the best fielders at each position". So why 3 center fielders? What, no one playing Left or Right displayed superior glove work? They're all a bunch of Reggie Sanders' and Chris Duncan's out there?

I dug a little deeper. It turns out, over the past 27 years (1980 is a nice round number), out of 81 Gold Gloves awarded in the NL, 51 went to centerfielders, 21 to right fielders (Walker 7, Gwynn 5, Dawson 4, Mondesi (!) 2, Abreu 1, Jose Cruz Jr 1), and 9 to left field (Bonds 8, Dusty Baker 1). Voters have only had a true 'best outfield' 5 times over that span, the last time being 1998 (Bonds, A. Jones, Walker).

The AL is even worse. Since 1980, 58 Gold Gloves went to center field, as compared to 19 to right (Ichiro 6, Dwight Evans 5, Winfield 3, Jesse Barfield 2, Buhner, Shawn Green, Dye 1 each) and only 5 to left (Winfield 2, Willie Wilson, Ricky Henderson, and Darren Erstad 1 each). The last time a 'best outfield' was represented in the Junior Circuit was 2000 (Erstad, Bernie Williams, Dye), and the only time since 1983 that a LF, CF, and RF have won the award in the same year.

Since 1980 no 2 left fielders have one a Gold Glove in the same year. Two right fielders have won twice in the NL (1997 and 1987), and 3 times in the AL (1987, 1985, 1984; 1985 4 Gold Gloves were awarded).

I know that left field is typically the weakest outfielder of the three (usually the slowest and possesses the weakest arm), but you can't tell me that no one is playing a decent left at the major league level. Right fielders get more respect, but not like the fellas playing center. Rawlings should either change the election process so voters are required to vote for someone at each position, as the award intended, or change the award for outfielders to read 'best 3 outfielders in the league regardless of position'.

This post would carry more weight if I had a LF or RF who got snubbed this year, but I don't. However you the reader might. Feel free to pontificate in the comments.

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