AL Gold Gloves look more like Silver Sluggers

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The Gold Gloves aren’t worthy of any real analysis and never have been, but we won’t completely ignore them, even if it’s likely the best way to treat them.
The AL choices were announced Tuesday, and the managers and coaches voting for them clearly went for offense over defense:
C Joe Mauer
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Placido Polanco
3B Evan Longoria
SS Derek Jeter
OF Torii Hunter
OF Ichiro Suzuki
OF Adam Jones
P Mark Buehrle
It looks like a legitimate All-Star team, with only Polanco standing out as someone who wasn’t an offensive force this year.
Of course, overlooked were plenty of elite defenders.
The American League has two standout outfielders, neither of whom was honored. It’s baffling that Carl Crawford was again ignored, despite his outstanding reputation throughout the game. Of course, the voters prefer center fielders to corner outfielders, but they’re willing to keep going with Ichiro. It’s amazing that Jones, who is hardly an exceptional center fielder, beat out Crawford.
That the American League’s best outfielder was overlooked was hardly surprising. Franklin Gutierrez was simply brilliant in center field for the Mariners, and he probably rates as the game’s best defensive outfielder right now. If he hits 30 homers next year, perhaps the managers will start to take note.
Shortstop was the worst call, as it has been several times before. Actually, Jeter is playing better defense now than he did when he won his first three Gold Gloves, but there’s still no way he’s better than Cesar Izturis or Adam Everett. Unfortunately, those two didn’t put in full seasons. Erick Aybar and Elvis Andrus came closer. But since there was no consensus on who was really the best, Jeter somehow added to his collection.
That’s one of the problems with the Gold Gloves. Since the field never gets narrowed down at any point, Jeter could have conceivably won with 25 percent of the vote.
The others are all justifiable selections. Gerald Laird probably had a better season than Mauer behind the dish, but he’s hardly spectacular. There were no true standouts at first base. I’d put Dustin Pedroia ahead of Polanco at second, but UZR agrees with managers’ pick. Longoria and Chone Figgins were close at third. Ichiro had as good a case as any for the third outfielder along with Gutierrez and Crawford, and Hunter is still clearly above average.
I probably would have gone with Roy Halladay as the pitcher, but then I don’t think pickoffs should factor into it — I see that as a pitching statistic, not a fielding stat. Buehrle is very good even without taking into account his ability to limit the running game, so I’m fine with that one.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.