The Gold Glove award, given by position at the end of each season to the best fielder, has soured for a number of people over the years. Some feel that voters who have not seen enough of every team simply vote for the biggest name. Others feel that the award ends up with the best hitter at a position by default, for no real discernible reason.
If one considers the fact that Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez is a finalist for the award this season, one cannot help but wonder if it is time to add “make-up awards” to the list of reasons that the Gold Glove’s importance is devalued. CarGo had a strong, strong case as one of baseball’s best outfielders in 2011, only to be absent from the list of finalists as a penalty for the fact that he did not play one position all season (it was the first season that outfield awards became that specific). The Rockies took care of that problem, playing him in left field all year in 2012. But now there’s a different problem.
CarGo had a terrible year defensively.
Some of this can be measured statistically. He committed 4 errors for a .982 fielding percentage, which is only a disappointment when you contrast it with the fact that he committed 0 errors in 2011 for a 1.000 percentage. Otherwise he registered 7 outfield assists, an impressive number on its own. The other set of statistics that show a decline in CarGo’s fielding are directly related to his decision to put himself in fewer risky situations, aka he dove less and crashed into fewer walls in an effort to stay healthy. His marks in certain defensive categories suffered as a result. His range factor per game (RF/9) of 1.63 ranks below the league average of 1.81, and all of his “defensive runs saved” categories are in negative numbers for the season. Math makes my head hurt, but I’m pretty sure if you have a negative “runs saved” stat, that means you did the opposite of saving runs…as in, you cost your team extra runs.
Some of this can be measured with the eye test. Without being accusatory, it is safe to say that it often looked like CarGo was loafing this season. He looked too nonchalant on balls he might have crashed into the wall for in previous seasons. I appreciate his maturation in that he recognizes the importance of staying healthy for a full season. It’s just that, fair or not, the way he showed that recognition simply did not look good in the hustle department.
So maybe it is a “make-up” award since he clearly should have won in 2011. Or maybe it is a matter of relativity, in that his disappointing season in the field is still better than most left fielders, and quite possibly stronger than the other two finalists (Martin Prado and Ryan Braun). Deserving or not, I would like to see CarGo win so that somebody on the Rockies earns accolades from this garbage dump of a season.
The Gold Glove awards will be announced tonight.