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.

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

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For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).