Major League Baseball revealed its 2010 Silver Slugger Award recipients this evening during a one-hour special on MLB Network. It’s the kind of show that would be far better suited for the announcement of Gold Gloves — you know, with highlights of great plays and range breakdowns — but MLBN probably had better programming lined up earlier this week when those awards were given out. Like a replay of the 1985 ALDS. Or something.
The National League recipients:
1B Albert Pujols
2B Dan Uggla
3B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Troy Tulowitzki
OF Ryan Braun
OF Matt Holliday
OF Carlos Gonzalez
P Yovani Gallardo
Reds first baseman Joey Votto outproduced Pujols this year in most of baseball’s meaningful offensive stat categories, including OPS, but Silver Sluggers are decided by MLB managers and coaches, and they obviously don’t take the voting process seriously enough to look into such things.
Gallardo, the NL’s winner at pitcher, registered a cool 837 OPS, four home runs and 10 RBI in 63 at-bats this year for the Brewers.
And the American League recipients:
1B Miguel Cabrera
2B Robinson Cano
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Alexei Ramirez
OF Jose Bautista
OF Carl Crawford
OF Josh Hamilton
DH Vladimir Guerrero
Ramirez hit just .282/.313/.431 for the White Sox this season, but there aren’t a ton of highly productive shortstops in the American League these days and his 18 homers and 70 RBI are what carried him to the hardware. It was his first Silver Slugger Award.
Derek Jeter has never fared well in advanced defensive statistics, typically ranking somewhere between below average and awful. He also now has five Gold Glove awards and a legion of Yankees fans who’ll swear he’s a great defender, so clearly not everyone cares about defensive statistics.
And that’s fine, but the notion that Jeter, at age 36, was the best defensive shortstop in the American League this season is simply absurd, whether you love defensive statistics, hate defensive statistics, or merely prefer the Ultimate Warrior to Ultimate Zone Rating.
Derek Jeter is a lot of things, including one of the best players of this era and a deserving future Hall of Famer, but he’s not the best defensive shortstop in the American League. He just isn’t. This is as close to a fact as something relatively subjective can get.
As for who was the AL’s best defensive shortstop, Ultimate Zone Rating says Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox and The Fielding Bible electorate agreed. There’s also Cliff Pennington, J.J. Hardy, Cesar Izturis, Elvis Andrus, and … well, the list of shortstops who’re better than Jeter defensively is a long one. And yet Jeter now has more Gold Glove awards than every shortstop in the history of baseball save for Ozzie Smith, Omar Vizquel, Luis Aparicio, and Mark Bellanger. Seriously.
I stopped being shocked or even especially frustrated by the Gold Glove voting somewhere between Rafael Palmeiro winning the award at first base in 1999 despite playing a grand total of 28 games in the field and Jeter winning three in a row from 2004-2006. In fact, at this point I’m far more surprised about this year’s winners at the other eight positions being mostly deserving than I am about Jeter winning yet another completely undeserved award.
For those of us who have come to more or less ignore Gold Glove awards as a meaningful way to measure defensive excellence, the fifth annual Fielding Bible Awards were announced today.
Voted on by a 10-person panel that includes Bill James, Peter Gammons, Joe Posnanski, Rob Neyer, and John Dewan as well as the entire video scouting team at Baseball Info Solutions, the award sets out to recognize the best defensive player at each position, regardless of league.
Here are the 2010 winners:
C – Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B – Daric Barton, A’s
2B – Chase Utley, Phillies
SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
3B – Evan Longoria, Rays
LF – Brett Gardner, Yankees
CF – Michael Bourn, Astros
RF – Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
P – Mark Buehrle, White Sox
I might choose differently at two or three spots, but those guys are all legitimately elite defenders at their position and unfortunately that can’t always be said about the Gold Glove winners. I’d be surprised if more than five of the Fielding Bible Award recipients also won a Gold Glove despite the latter being given to one representative for each league.
Molina is the first unanimous selection in the five-year history of the Fielding Bible Awards, and he joins Suzuki, Buehrle, and Tulowitzki as repeat winners.
MLB announced this afternoon that Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano and Braves right-hander Tim Hudson have won the Comeback Player of the Year awards for their respective leagues.
Liriano struggled last year in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, going 5-13 with a 5.80 ERA, but was one of baseball’s best starters this year with a 3.62 ERA and 201/58 K/BB ratio in 192 innings.
Hudson also gets the award for thriving after Tommy John surgery, although he’s about a year ahead of Liriano’s timetable. Hudson pitched well in seven starts for the Braves down the stretch last season after returning from the surgery and went 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA his season, ranking second among NL pitchers in starts (34) and fourth in innings (229).
I’ve already heard from several people questioning why Hudson was chosen over R.A. Dickey, but “comeback season” isn’t necessarily synonymous with “surprise season” and Dickey didn’t technically come back from anything unless you count surgeries that were years ago or a decade of mediocre pitching.
Last year’s winners were Aaron Hill in the AL and Chris Carpenter in the NL.