Manny Machado

Projecting the 2013 Gold Glove winners

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Let’s go down the list:

AL, catcher: Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer, Salvador Perez

Mauer is still the AL’s best defensive catcher, but he played a mere 660 innings behind the plate this year, compared to 1,200 for Wieters and 1,115 for Perez. Wieters has won the last two, so he’s the favorite here. Still, I think Perez gets the nod.

AL, first base: Chris Davis, James Loney, Eric Hosmer

Even is his league-leading UZR oversells it a bit, Mike Napoli deserved a nomination over Davis or Hosmer. Loney will claim this one, and it probably won’t be particularly close. Weak field.

AL, second base: Robinson Cano, Ben Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia

Both Pedroia and Cano have two Gold Gloves to their credit. The tie will be broken this year, and I imagine Pedroia will be the choice.

AL, third base: Manny Machado, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre

This is easily the AL’s strongest position. Josh Donaldson was probably the best defender at any position not to get a nomination, and Matt Dominguez is no slouch in Houston. It will be interesting to see if the voters make the right choice with Machado. I think they will, but Beltre was the Platinum Glove choice the previous two years, marking him as the league’s overall best defender.

AL, shortstop: Yunel Escobar, Alcides Escobar, J.J. Hardy

Alcides Escobar’s defensive numbers finally match his rep this year, and he’s probably the best choice. Still, it’s hardly a slam dunk. My guess is that Hardy gets his second Gold Glove in a row.

AL, left field: Yoenis Cespedes, Andy Dirks, Alex Gordon

Gordon has won both years since the Gold Gloves separated out the outfield positions (though Brett Gardner deserved it in 2011). He’s the likely choice again, and I don’t see any better options. He played 500 more innings in left than either of the other nominees here.

AL, center field: Adam Jones, Lorenzo Cain, Jacoby Ellsbury

The numbers say Cain, but he played just 760 innings in center and he was shifted to right when both he and Jarrod Dyson were in the lineup at the same time. That makes him kind of a tough sell. Jones is a terribly weak nomination; Mike Trout, Gardner, Colby Rasmus, Michael Bourn, Coco Crisp and Austin Jackson are all better defenders. I guess Ellsbury is the choice of this trio, but really, Cain is the best of the bunch.

AL, right field: Nick Markakis, Josh Reddick, Shane Victorino

Markakis too? Did the Orioles grease some palms? Anyway, Victorino is the most obvious winner at any AL position.

AL, pitcher: Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Doug Fister

Buehrle has won four Gold Gloves in a row, including last year in the National League. Still, Fister deserves to win this award and I think he’ll get it.

NL, catcher: A.J. Ellis, Russell Martin, Yadier Molina

Martin was the last catcher to beat out Molina, doing so in 2007. It’s a given that Molina will keep the crown for a sixth straight year, and he deserves it, but Martin was really good, too.

NL, first base: Paul Goldschmidt, Adrian Gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo

The last two NL Gold Glove winners (Joey Votto in 2011, Adam LaRoche in 2012) weren’t even nominated. Gonzalez has the rep and will claim the award. Rizzo’s turn could come next year.

NL, second base: Darwin Barney, Mark Ellis, Brandon Phillips

Phillips won two in a row before Barney overtook him last year. The difference between 2012 and 2013 was that Barney was competent offensively last year. Since he wasn’t this year, the award is more likely to go back to Phillips.

NL, third base: Nolan Arenado, Juan Uribe, David Wright

How about a trade? The AL gets both Gold Glove third basemen and the NL gets both for center field. Uribe and Arenado both actually had pretty exceptional numbers. Personally I buy Uribe’s a bit more. Still, my guess is that Wright wins on name recognition. After all, Uribe and Arenado could split the analytical component of the vote.

NL, shortstop: Ian Desmond, Andrelton Simmons, Troy Tulowitzki

Andrelton.

NL, left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Starling Marte, Eric Young Jr.

Gonzalez’s arm would have earned him the award if he had been able to play in the second half. Marte, though, was the better choice regardless, and since he did play an extra couple of hundred innings, I think he’ll be the pick.

NL, center field: Carlos Gomez, Andrew McCutchen, Denard Span

McCutchen can have the MVP, but Gomez is far more deserving of the Gold Glove. Of course, that was true last year, too, and McCutchen was still the choice. I’m not sure the analytics component of the vote will sway that. I’m guessing McCutchen.

Also, Juan Lagares deserved a nomination here. He played more innings in center than Young did in left or Jason Heyward did in right.

NL, right field: Jay Bruce, Jason Heyward, Gerardo Parra

Heyward won last year, but he was limited to 104 games this year and started just 76 in right field. He is great, but so is Parra and Parra was out there for an extra 350 innings. Still, I imagine Heyward will be the selection.

NL, pitcher: Patrick Corbin, Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright

No Mike Leake? Anyway, Wainwright was the only pitcher in either league to be involved in six double plays, and he didn’t commit a single error. Botched World Series popup not withstanding, he should be the pick. Greinke can settle for the Silver Slugger.

Nationals acquire Derek Norris from Padres

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 01:  Derek Norris #3 of the San Diego Padres prepares to bat against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning of a MLB game at Chase Field on October 1, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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According to an official team announcement, the Nationals have acquired catcher Derek Norris from the Padres in exchange for right-hander Pedro Avila.

Norris, 27, batted a career-low .186/.225/.328 in 458 PA with the Padres in 2016. He hit career highs with 14 home runs and nine stolen bases, but his dismal production rate through the second half of the season spelled the end of his time in a starting role in San Diego. Norris’ departure from the Padres also confirms 24-year-old Austin Hedges‘ spot on the roster, as reported by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell:

Heading to San Diego is 19-year-old right-handed starter Pedro Avila, who was acquired by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2014. The 19-year-old spent his first season in Single-A Hagerstown and went 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA and 2.42 K/BB rate in 93 innings.

Breaking Down the Today’s Game Hall of Fame ballot: Bud Selig

Bud Selig
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On Monday, December 5, the Today’s Game committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame — the replacement for the Veterans Committee which covers the years 1988-2016 — will vote on candidates for the 2017 induction class. This week we are looking at the ten candidates, one-by-one, to assess their Hall worthiness. The final candidate: Bud Selig. 

The case for his induction:

Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, in January 2015, as Bud Selig was stepping down after 20+ years as baseball’s commissioner, I wrote a column claiming that he was “The Greatest Commissioner in Baseball History.” I stand by that assessment.

Which is not to say that he was perfect or that he was, in an absolute sense, good. He was simply better than all of the other commissioners, most of whom weren’t worth a tinker’s damn.

More important to that analysis than his historical comps, however, was that when people talk about how good or bad a commissioner was, they’re usually judging him by their own, subjective terms, not the terms of the commissioner’s employment. Contrary to popular belief, the commissioner is not a president, governor or mayor of baseball. He is not elected by nor answerable to the fans or the public. He may play up all of the trappings of political leadership because it makes him seem important and noble and serves to justify the power he wields, but in reality the commissioner of baseball is merely the Chairman of the Board for Baseball, Inc., answerable to anywhere between 16 and 30 owners depending on what time in baseball history he happend to serve.

People hate being reminded of that. They want to say Bud Selig was a failure because he did things they did not like, but that’s beside the point. He did things his employers liked and did them better than most others who preceded him. In the process he made a lot of people very rich, including all of the other owners, broadcast executives, players, agents and just about anyone else who holds a stake in baseball. His transgressions — discussed below — were real, but they were not considered deal breakers for anyone to whom Selig actually owed a duty. He may have betrayed you or me and he may have done things that harmed our love of baseball, but it was never his job to make us happy. Sorry I had to tell you that so bluntly, but it’s better you heard it from a friend.

So, the case for Bud: he did his job the way he was supposed to and he grew the game and made his employers rich. That’s not an inspiring case, but it’s the case we have.

The case against his induction:

Personally, I don’t think any commissioner should be in the Hall of Fame, but as we noted with the other executives, that ship has sailed. Bowie Kuhn is in the Hall of Fame for Pete’s sake and he bungled just about everything that came his way. Hall of Fame induction for a commissioner is a gold watch. A lifetime achievement award.

It may also be worth noting that he’s on the Hall of Fame board for crying out loud, so he has a blatant conflict of interest here, what with having been part of selecting or approving the very people who will vote for him on Monday. Based on what we’re seeing in other arenas, however, I suppose we’re over things like conflicts of interest in late 2016 America, so that gets us nowhere.

Still, let’s not pretend that Bud Selig was not an accomplice and, according to many, a ringleader of a literal criminal conspiracy that harmed people’s livelihoods and, in turn, compromised the product on the field. Let us not pretend he did not launch a disastrous, cynical and greed-inspired labor war that cost us the 1994 season and World Series. Let us not pretend that he did not turn the ownership ranks into a secret society open only to those who know the secret knock, rewarding those inside the club, however incompetent, and destroying entire franchises. Let us not pretend that he did not willfully turn a blind eye to steroid and performance enhancing drug use in the game, knowing that the resulting dingers helped boost fan interest and revenue, only to then turn around and vilify and scapegoat the players who used those drugs in a comically grandstanding and self-serving manner.

Should all of that be held against him? Absolutely. Will they be? I seriously, seriously doubt it.

Would I vote for him?

We hear from BBWAA voters so very often that to withhold a Hall of Fame vote from someone is not a “punishment” as much as it is a mere denial of the highest honor. We hear that withholding a vote does not deny a player’s greatness, just a place in the Hall. If that’s the case I see no problem withholding a vote from Selig, even if he was the greatest commissioner. Yes, he was great, but he also did a lot of stuff which brought ignominy to the game and which actively harmed people. Many, many players have been effectively barred from entering the Hall of Fame for far lesser transgressions. Bud Selig is not, in my view, worthy of baseball’s highest honor.

Will the Committee vote for him?

It’s a mortal lock. Baseball loves nothing more than patting Bud Selig on the back. He made everyone involved with it quite wealthy. I’d place the odds of him making it in on Monday’s vote at 100%.