Congrats to Adrian Gonzalez for winning the first Gold Glove Award of his career. Although I’m thrilled for Gonzalez, who according to my eyes is a fantastic first baseman, I have mixed feelings about this choice from a group that essentially throws darts and hopes for the best.
Albert Pujols (superior hitter) and Derrek Lee (bigger media market, better name recognition) would have been my guesses based on the voters’ usual apparent criteria. Given Gonzalez’ relative lack of exposure and the fact that the Padres stunk in ’08, I’m more than a little surprised at his selection.
What do the defensive metrics say? Nothing kind, I’m afraid:
- Revized Zone Rating: .697, 10th in NL out of 12 qualifiers (Pujols is the leader, Lee places seventh)
- Fielding Win Shares: 2.1, 4th in NL (Lee is first, Pujols is tied with Gonzalez)
Gonzalez also placed 11th among all big-league first baseman in the Fielding Bible Awards, which isn’t really a metric but which may have some utility (Pujols won this). He does not rank among the top 10 big leaguers in John Dewan’s plus/minus metric (Mark Teixeira leads, with Pujols finishing second).
Personally, as a connoisseur of first base defense and as someone who has been keeping a watchful eye on Gonzalez for a while, I haven’t seen anyone better at the position since J.T. Snow. As I recently noted over at Crashburn Alley:
I’ve been watching Gonzalez very closely for the past 3 years, and all of his relevant defensive skills — hands, footwork, instincts, arm strength, arm accuracy — rate between above average and outstanding.
Very well, then. Consider it payback for taking out Chris Young and Josh Bard in the same inning. And congrats again.