2012 Gold Glove Awards include some questionable choices in National League

Ronald Martinez

This year's Gold Glove winners include some questionable choices as usual, particularly in the National League.

Tuesday night on ESPN2, the 18 winners of the 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards were announced, nine for each league and one for each position. Below, all the winners (along with how many Gold Gloves they've won, if they've won more than one).

American League

P - Jake Peavy & Jeremy Hellickson (tie)
C - Matt Wieters (2)
1B - Mark Teixeira (5)
2B - Robinson Canó (2)
SS - J.J. Hardy
3B - Adrián Beltré (4)
LF - Alex Gordon (2)
CF - Adam Jones (2)
RF - Josh Reddick

I used to argue that Teixeira didn't deserve to win, based purely on his then-unimpressive numbers. But this year, anyway, his statistics caught up with his reputation. Similarly, Canó really seems to have upped his game; or maybe, like Teixeira, he's simply cracked the Ultimate Zone Rating (and Defensive Runs Saved) code, because his numbers this season were really good. At shortstop, Hardy had a really good year ... but Brendan Ryan got robbed, plain and simple. Beltré was brilliant at third base, as usual. He might not have been quite as brilliant as Kansas City's Mike Moustakas, but it was close and you can't really blame the voters for going with the guy they've been watching for years.

Alex Gordon might not have deserved his award last season, but only because Brett Gardner played left field like a center fielder. This season, with Gardner barely playing, Gordon looked great in left field and racked up fantastic statistics, and was the obvious choice. Adam Jones, on the other hand, is an exceptionally questionable choice in center field. He might look good out there, but does he look better than Mike Trout and Austin Jackson? No, he doesn't. And his numbers weren't nearly as good, either. Reddick's a fine choice in right field.

National League

P - Mark Buehrle (4)
C - Yadier Molina (5)
1B - Adam LaRoche
2B - Darwin Barney
SS - Jimmy Rollins (4)
3B - Chase Headley
LF - Carlos Gonzalez (2)
CF - Andrew McCutchen
RF - Jason Heyward

That's five in a row for Molina. It's really hard to measure a catcher's defensive contributions -- or rather, to measure them in a way that's meaningful -- but in just about every way you can measure, Molina's outstanding.

This was a really weak year for National League first basemen with Albert Pujols gone, Joey Votto missing a big chunk of the season, and both Adrian Gonzalez and James Loney switching leagues in August. Among the leftovers, LaRoche was as good a choice as any. At second base, Darwin Barney's numbers this season were off the charts. Kudos to the voters for recognizing a great fielder on a lousy team. Rollins' award is sort of a joke. He's still an adequate shortstop, but at 33 he's far from outstanding. Clint Barmes, Brandon Crawford, rookie Zack Cozart ... all of them were a lot better than Rollins this season. It wasn't a great year for third basemen in the National League ... but if the voters wanted to go for a third baseman with big hitting stats, why not David Wright, who had the virtue of also being an outstanding fielder? You really gotta wonder about that one.

Granted, the National League didn't sport any everyday left fielders like Gordon or pre-2012 Gardner or pre-2011 Carl Crawford. But leaving aside his first Gold Glove, there's little evidence that Carlos Gonzalez is a good left fielder. Let alone a great one. Andrew McCutchen won his Gold Glove with his bat; the award should have gone to Michael Bourn. Meanwhile, Jason Heyward's numbers were outstanding. Combine his fielding with his hitting, and he's basically becoming the superstar we expected a couple of years ago.

Without actually going back and checking, there don't seem to be as many big misses this year as usual, which makes me wonder if the coaches aren't actually looking at the same websites the rest of us look at. Of the nine Fielding Bible winners, only Ryan and Trout didn't win Gold Gloves.

While I do think Ryan deserved to win, J.J. Hardy did have a really good season with the glove. Leaving aside the American League pitchers (because I have no idea about them), the only Gold Glovers who seem like obvious mistakes are Jones, Rollins, McCutchen, Gonzalez and Chase Headley.

Actually, that's not really good. The American League voters did an outstanding job this season, but the National League managers and coaches missed badly on nearly half of their choices. That's a good batting average, but it's a really lousy Gold Glove Percentage. Maybe the N.L. guys didn't get the memo?

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