November 3, 2004

A National Outrage

I know I said yesterday that I wasn't going to get political here, but in light of what has happened, I think something simply needs to be said. The American people have been duped, bamboozled and misled, and I truly believe yesterday's events will lead to the downfall of the nation as we know it.

Yes, that's right, Derek Jeter won the American League Gold Glove at shortstop.

There are, as far as I can see, two positives that come along with this ridiculous situation. One is that you can cross "Gold Glove" off the list of things you give importance to, making statements like "he plays Gold Glove defense" utterly useless.

Beyond that, this gives hope to people out there with dreams. Dream of being President of the United States? Want to marry a supermodel? You say you'd like to be in the movies? Personally, I'd like to be the GM of a baseball team. Normally I'd say you and I were probably out of luck, but the fact that Jeter can be given an award for being the best defensive shortstop in the AL means pretty much anything is possible. Hell, I'm starting to think I have a real chance of winning the lottery, and I didn't even buy a ticket.

Most advanced defensive metrics say that Jeter has been one of the worst defensive shortstops for years, and although his defensive performance this season will likely rate better than in the past, he still won't even be close to the top of the heap. Plus, even if you choose to ignore all of the complicated measures, Jeter still is nowhere near the top in the more simple, mainstream stats.


David Eckstein .988
Cristian Guzman .983
Omar Vizquel .982

Miguel Tejada 5.00
Carlos Guillen 4.97
Bobby Crosby 4.96
Jose Valentin 4.91
Julio Lugo 4.78
Angel Berroa 4.69
Cristian Guzman 4.65

Jose Valentin .878
Bobby Crosby .870
Miguel Tejada .861
David Eckstein .859
Julio Lugo .848

Now, I pay absolutely zero attention to Range Factors or Fielding Percentages, but the latter of those is something that the coaches and managers who vote for the Gold Gloves and the mainstream media members who cover the story almost certainly pay attention to. In fact, in the story on the AL Gold Glove selections, Fielding Percentage is the only defensive statistic mentioned.

And yet Jeter doesn't even do that well in the most basic, dumbed-down measures. In Zone Rating, which is a number I at least place some value in, Jeter finds himself right in the middle of the pack in the AL, ahead of five players and behind five players.

Here's how he ranks in a slightly more advanced metric ...


Cristian Guzman 9.6
Bobby Crosby 7.5
Miguel Tejada 7.2

Again, I don't claim that Win Shares is the world's greatest measure of defense either (and I certainly don't agree with its ultimate conclusion at shortstop this year), but it is yet another stat Jeter trails multiple AL shortstops in.

Here's what Baseball Prospectus' fielding stat, Fielding Runs Above Replacement (FRAR), says ...


Miguel Tejada 41
Cristian Guzman 38
Carlos Guillen 35
Jose Valentin 26

Once again, Jeter finds himself in the middle of the pack. (Bobby Crosby's FRAR numbers aren't available, for some reason, so it's possible Jeter ranks another spot lower than shown above.)

And last but certainly not least, here's where Jeter ranks according to Mitchel Lichtman's Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) ...


Miguel Tejada 9
Jose Valentin 5
Julio Lugo 4
Cristian Guzman 2
Bobby Crosby 1
Omar Vizquel -3
Carlos Guillen -4

All in all, Jeter ranks sixth in Zone Rating, fourth in Fielding Win Shares, fifth in Fielding Runs Above Replacement, and eighth in Ultimate Zone Rating. I put no value in Fielding Percentage or Range Factor, but he even ranks just fourth and eighth in those two numbers, respectively. And this is in a good year; we have plenty of data on past years that suggests his mediocre rankings aren't flukes. Or, rather, if they are flukes, they are flukes in Jeter's favor.

And yet for the rest of Derek Jeter's incredibly wonderful, wealthy and supermodel-laden life, he'll get to say he was named the best defensive shortstop in the American League. Some guys just live charmed lives, I guess. I demand a re-count.

The Hardball Times:

- Who Hit What? (by Studes)

- Offseason Trading Block (by Ben Jacobs)

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