Gold Glove Awards were announced last night. I didn’t see them when they came out because I was doing important things like watching “Serenity” for the tenth time. Shiny.
Look, I’m not going to pretend that I have any way to measure defense that is any better than what anyone else has. Quite worse, in fact, as I don’t have nearly the grasp on the relevant defensive metrics that the experts and many of you guys sling around. When I talk about defense it’s almost always based on the eyeball test, because it’s really all I got. To the extent I have any authority on it — and I don’t claim to have much if any — it’s because I tend to watch a lot of baseball.
All of that said, if anyone can explain to me how Adam Jones is a better outfielder than Mike Trout, J.J. Hardy is a better shortstop than Brendan Ryan and Jimmy Rollins is a better shortstop than Brandon Crawford — who wasn’t even nominated, by the way — I’d really like to hear your arguments.
Otherwise: eh. The Gold Glove voters (i.e. random coaches who watch less of the other 29 baseball teams than most serious baseball fans and dedicated baseball writers do) have had worse years than this. Years so bad that, by this point, it’s silly to even work up any bile over these things. If anything I’m disappointed that the awards weren’t worse because at least then we could have fun with them.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉