A Couple Of Big Misses For Gold Gloves In 2011

LOS ANGELES: Center fielder Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers can't reach a two run home run hit by Ian Stewart of the Colorado Rockies in the first inning at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

As usual, the Gold Glove Awards this year did a pretty good job of rewarding good (and sometimes even great) defensive players. But, as usual, there were a few huge misses.

Here's the thing about the Rawlings Gold Gloves ... We're always going to argue about them. Even if you look at the statistics, there's always going to be a fair amount of space between reasonable answers. Ideally, we would probably like every Gold Glove winner to be an outstanding defensive player. Realistically, we should be generally content if the winners are good, at least.

With that in mind, I have just one serious question ...

Erick Aybar?

It's like the voters are telling everyone, "Okay, you nerdballs, we won't give Derek Jeter another one. But that doesn't mean we're actually going to give that Gold Glove to a good shortstop."

Brendan Ryan is a fantastic defensive player. He started 120 games at shortstop this year. Okay, so that's not a lot. Alcides Escobar had a really good season. Elvis Andrus and Alexei Ramirez are solid.

None of those guys were even close to winning. Monday, ESPN released lists of three "nominees" for each of the awards. Now, it should be said that upon posting this news in this space, I started getting these odd tweets from Rawlings, claiming that there's no such thing as "finalists" (the word I used, rather than "nominees") and nobody knows who finishes second (which isn't actually something I suggested, but whatever).

Essentially, Rawlings went to Twitter and half-heartedly disowned the whole notion of nominees and finalists and anything except one guy winning and everybody else finishing last.

Whatever. If you believe ESPN, the three nominees for American League shortstop were Erick Aybar, J.J. Hardy and Asdrubal Cabrera. Essentially -- if you believe the numbers anyway -- Rawlings or the voters or whoever chose the three worst non-Jeter every-day shortstops in the American League as the three nominees. In the Fielding Bible balloting, Cabrera, Hardy and Aybar finished seventh, eighth and ninth.

The Gold Glove process simply whiffed on the American League shortstops, and I have no idea why. We can blame the (reported) serious consideration of Hardy and Cabrera on their bats, but Aybar didn't do anything special as a hitter this year.

There certainly were other questionable choices. It's something of a crime that Brett Gardner didn't win, but at least Alex Gordon had a good year in the field. Not great like Gardner, but good.

But the only other award that strikes me as truly egregious is Matt Kemp's. The guy had a phenomenal season with the bat, of course. And he improved massively, as a fielder, over his terrible performance in 2010. But he didn't go from terrible to excellent; he went from terrible to adequate. In the American League, the biggest gap between the actual winner and the deserving winner is the gap between Erick Aybar and Brendan Ryan. In the National League, the biggest gap is between Matt Kemp and Arizona's Chris Young. In fact, if I had a Gold Glove ballot I probably would have given the award to Diamondbacks at all three positions.

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