Not a few months ago, that headline would have read like a lame attempt at parody.

But after five months of error-free ball in left field, and modestly improved range, it has become something less like a joke than a genuine discussion point. The eyeball test tells you Soriano is no Gold Glover, but might our eyeballs be underestimating Soriano’s ability … and overestimating his competition? After all, Soriano no longer has to be one of the top three outfielders in the NL to win the award, he simply has to be the best defensive left fielder in the NL.

From ESPNChicago:

In fact, of the six qualifying left fielders in the major leagues, Soriano is the only one who has not recorded an error. He has played the second most games of the six qualifiers and was error-free in 215 total chances before Tuesday’s contest.

So does Soriano think he can win the [Gold Glove] award?

“I don’t know because I never have been in that competition,” said Soriano, who then proceeded to throw out a runner advancing to third base in the first inning. “We’ll see with 30 more games left.”

The way Soriano sees it, his biggest competition for the Gold Glove in left field is Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and Jason Kubel of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Soriano goes on to point out that he should at least have a chance in the competition if he keeps up his errorless ways.

And, for whatever little it’s worth, Soriano’s defense holds up exceedingly well in the primary advanced defensive metric at FanGraphs, Ultimate Zone Rating. His UZR of 15.2 is the fifth best of any player at any position in baseball, and is the top in left field. Heck, it’s higher than Darwin Barney’s UZR, who comes in 8th at 12.4.

(Query whether this demonstrates Soriano’s hidden value as a defender, or the still-present problems with advanced defensive metrics. Baseball Reference has Soriano as slightly below average defensively this year.)

So, what do you think? Is this just a silly discussion based on stats that aren’t really reflective of defensive ability? Or should Soriano really be in the Gold Glove discussion in left field in the NL this year? If not Soriano, then who?

  • Rynomite

    I saw that on fangraphs the other day and spit my coffee all over the monitor. Faulty defensive metrics, you owe me a monitor and a hot cup of joe.

  • hansman1982

    I know at the beginning of the season Soriano looked like a 75 year old man in LF. I haven’t seen many games lately but I’d like to think an error-free season should get you into the discussion. (caveat: Although I think errors are an over-discussed, worried about, thought about, rated stat, not having any in a season is still an accomplishment, regardless of the posistion)

    With that said, there is a 0% chance he gets a GG. Having a reputation for poor fielding is what will do him in. Random Thought: I did see a stat the other day where Soriano has the 2nd most assists for an outfielder from 2005-2012.

  • tom

    Soriano YOU SUCK !!! for not wanting to go to Giants (I know he has the 10 & 5) BUT His POOR playoff stats and Giants have larger outfield to roam, Cubs could have traded you, He is only interested in his STATS, Soriano is a gutless selfish player, Would you rather stay and loose with Cubs or go to Giants (playoffs) and maybe world series ???? not Soriano-(Giants) , Not Dempster-(Braves) Theo, PLEASE dont make it so comfy for these type players !!!!!

    • DocPeterWimsey

      It’s official: grammar is dead.

      • jwilson

        I could not agree more. There is no respect for the English language. But hey, at the end if the day, when you think outside of the box, you come to the conclusion that “it is what it is.” The last sentence was a joke.

    • tom


      • Glenallen Hill’s One Homer

        When I tell people about this site they always say “Oh, Bleacher Nation? Is that like Bleacher Report?” and I immediately walk away from those people.

        • Brett

          Of course, Bleacher Report just sold for $200 million, so maybe I don’t hate the confusion as much as I thought I did…

          • Glenallen Hill’s One Homer

            We’ll get you there some day, Ace! You’ve gotta be at $50, maybe $60 mil so far already, right?

            • Brett

              Wouldn’t sell for a penny under $3 billion. Take a guess what I’d do with the proceeds …

              • hansman1982

                Go back to being a lawyer?
                Start Bleacher Nations?
                Buy the Cardinals and/or Red Sox, name yourself GM, trade everyone to the Cubs and fold both franchises?

                • Brett

                  Oooh, I hadn’t thought of that last one …

                  • hansman1982

                    Step 1: Name me as asst. GM so that when you fire yourself for being incompetant I can blast you for doing dumb things and get hired by the Cubs. At this point I will hire you as my Asst. GM.

                    Step 2: ???

                    Step 3: Win WS

                    Step 4: Once all of that is settled, we should get an apartment and move in together…

              • Can’t think of a cool name

                Then you can buy the Cubs and hear that you’re pocketing all the money and won’t spend any to make the Cubs better.

            • Hee Seop Chode

              Can i just say you’ve got a great name? I was at that game, and remember that home to left. He pulled the hell out of that thing!

          • hansman1982

            I’ll give you 200 M(&M’s)

        • bbmoney

          This has probably been said hundreds of times, but “Glenallen Hill’s One Homer” is probably my favorite handle on this site. Outstanding.

    • TWC

      Yeah, we know your feelings, tom. You posted a much shorter version of the same drivel four hours ago. We get it.

    • Ryan

      Tom, you do realize that Dempster went to Texas, one of the best teams in baseball, right? Quit trolling, this site is way too awesome for that crap.

    • Carew

      Id say we got two very solid prospects from Texas in the Demp deal. and i wouldnt say bleacherreport is the most reliable..

    • Picklenose

      Tom – if you hate so many of the people who wear the Cubs uniform, how can you be a fan of the team? It is completely illogical.

      • tom

        DONT Hate everyone on the team, just because Im a CUB fan Im no kiss ass, Im behind Theo & Co. on removing the players He got rid of, I think Cubs have a good start (Rizzo,Castro,Barney,B Jackson) now we need 3rd baseman and starting pitching, just because players wear Cub uniform I dont have to have blinders on

    • @cubsfantroy


    • Lifepainter

      Last time I looked Soriano was playing for the Cubs and you were running your mouth on this web site. Easy to think you have the right to bitch when Soriano doesn’t know you, your lifestyle or you abilities(or lack of) in the game of baseball. If Soriano knew you would he talk about how much money you make(don’t make), how you won’t stand up to your boss or how you play golf, bowl, ect.?? I doubt it. Lay off the guy.

  • ottoCub

    Yes, Soriano should be considered for the gold glove in left field.

    Soriano: 975 innings, 219 chances (2.02 chances/9 innings)
    0 errors, 10 assists

    Braun: 1085 innings, 249 chances (2.06 chances/9 innings)
    6 errors, 6 assists

    Kubel: 944 innings, 174 chances (1.66 chances/9 innings)
    1 error, 11 assists

    Carlos Gonzalez: 1044 innings, 194 chances (1.67 chances/9 innings)
    4 errors, 7 assists

    • LWeb23


    • DocPeterWimsey

      The only modification that this needs is an indication of what proportion of ABs result in flyballs from that OFer’s pitching staff. Chances per inning are a good indicator of range, but if you are an OFer behind a high K, high GB staff (if such a thing exists!), then the metric might mislead. (That’s part of the difference between ZR and UZR.)

    • Picklenose

      Thanks for posting those numbers, they do make a case for Soriano as a gold glove candidate. The chances per inning are interesting to me. Does that imply that Soriano actually has more range than we think, or does it mean the Cubs pitchers are allowing way too many flies instead of ground outs.

      • DocPeterWimsey


        Seriously, both are true. The Cubs pitching staff leads the NL with the most balls hit into the OF (line drives plus non-popup flyballs) at 47.9%. The Brewers are 2nd at 46.9%, the Rox are at 45.7% and the DBacks are at 44.4%.

        If you plug in the “balls in play” ABs and those rates, then the approximate number of OF plays for each team is:
        Cubs: 1700
        Rox: 1685
        Brewers: 1626
        DBacks: 1600

        So, if all of these guys had the same number of flyballs (to all fields) that the Cubs pitching staff has allowed, then we’d get something like:
        Braun: 2.16 chances / game
        Sori: 2.02 chances / game
        Kubel: 1.76 chances/game
        Cargo: 1.69 chances/game

        In other words, it’s not just pitching: Sori is getting to about 8 balls for every 7 that Kubel or Cargo reach.

        • Cyranojoe

          Holy cow. OK, I was feeling that Soriano should get serious consideration for a GG — now I think he *ought* to be the no-doubt front-runner. Hansman’s right, though, his rep will likely keep the hardware from his grasp. That, and the fact that DBar will be taking it home for 2nd Base… not a lot of folks will be able to handle the idea that this Cubs team might have more than one Gold Glover…

    • CubsFan4Life

      Based on these number, Soriano should win the Gold Glove award for NL left fielders this year. Kubel is the only real competition with just 30 games left to play. I think it would be great if Soriano and Barney both win Gold Gloves this year for left field and second base.

      The fans that want to see Soriano traded should definitely be rooting for him to win the Gold Glove award (and hit 30 HRs and 100 RBIs) this year, because that should help increase his trade value.

      The fans that want to see the Cubs keep Soriano (instead of eating most of the $36 million that he is owed for the next 2 seasons) should also be rooting for him to win the Gold Glove, because that must be inspirational to the all of the young Cubs. For a man Soriano’s age with his knee problems to win the Gold Glove, shows the Cubs kids what can be accomplished with hard work and dedication.

      • Joepoe321

        Let’s say he wins gold glove and hits 30 something homers with over 100 RBI…I would say he would at least be in discussions for MVP

        • Ogyu

          If only he had been born in the USA, he could run a write-in campaign for President, too.

          • Frank

            After I saw your post, I had an irresistible urge to play some Springsteen . . .

        • http://bleachernation loyal100more

          boy we get carried away fast dont we…

  • MightyBear

    There is no way Soriano should win a gold glove and while I am a firm believer in statistics, they don’t always tell the whole or correct story. No way is Soriano a better defender than Darwin Barney. Cmon Man.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      No way is Soriano a better defender than Darwin Barney.

      Is Dan Shechtman as good a scientist as Saul Perlmutter? That’s about how relevant Barney’s (or any other non-left-fielder’s) fielding is to this issue.

      • hcs

        Some would argue that Schechtman is the better scientist, with more real-life applications, but he can’t lay off the outside curve. Advantage, Perlmutter in my book.

      • Steve

        Would you rather be the leading scientist in your field, or get mad cow disease?

        • hansman1982

          Option 3: Be the leading scientist AND get Mad Cow disease…

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Are these mutually exclusive?

        • Ogyu

          I’d rather be a leading cow with mad scientist disease.

      • Harry Ramirez

        I didn’t know that Shechtman is such a well known figure in the U.S. I guess I’m not that surprised, but impressed. Interesting.

    • Hee Seop Chode

      This makes me want to really dive into UZR, understand why it’s inefficient, and improve it.

      On a different tangent, Tony Campana got me thinking a few months ago when he was leading the NL in stolen bases; when a hitter smacks a high volume of doubles his slugging and OPS rise. While Tony was hitting something like .230, it seemed like every time he got on base he stole second and or third.

      As of today TC’s MLB slash line is .256/.296/.288. If you add his 26 stolen bases to the other 46 bases he reached in 160 AB, his SLG shoots up to .450 – good for 5th best on the team. It increases his OPS to a respectable .746

      Why is a base hit and stole base worth less than a double?

      • Kyle

        Because a base hit and a stolen base doesn’t drive in a runner from first.

        • hansman1982

          Yup, and there is still the possiblity that you get thrown out stealing.

          Hee Seop – you may want to check out wOBA. That component takes into account everything, offensively speaking, that a player contributes and weights it according to how it affects scoring.

          • Drew7

            wOBA is actually the stat that makes Campana look the closest to a Major-Leaguer, due to the weight it gives SB.

            That said, even his wOBA is paultry

            • hansman1982

              I think I saw once that he has a wOBA+ (think OPS+) of 98 but that was towards the beginning of the season when his OBP was still fairly high (.340-ish)

              I REALLY wanted him to be successful but if he can’t hit double digit XBH in a season or maintain an OBP of .350 or above, he doesn’t have much chance.

              • Hee Seop Chode

                well he has 5 doubles in 160 AB. if he had the same number of AB as say Castro (539), that extrapulates out to about 17 doubles.

                The thing is, you can’t have an outfielder hit 0 home runs a season and go to the playoffs.

              • Drew7

                “I think I saw once that he has a wOBA+ (think OPS+) of 98 ”

                wOBA+?! I wonder what genius was the author of that piece? 😉

                • hansman1982

                  Well then, I guess I don’t have to mention where I saw that piece!

          • Hee Seop Chode

            I knew this stat had to be out there. Thanks for filling in the holes. If he could just walk like….3x as often…*sigh*

    • chirogerg

      UZR and error statistics are naturally skewed in favor of outfielders

      • gutshot5820

        People can’t spout out statistics like WAR etc.. and use them for any conversation and then ignore UZR and say it is irrelevant. UZR is a statistic, not an opinion.

        • Pat

          Not exactly. UZR is a method used to try to interpret the correlation between certain statistics and winning. One can definitely have an opinion on whether other methods can do a better job of that.

          There are absolute stats and interpretive stats, WAR and UZR fall into the second category.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            We might be talking about two different metrics. The UZR to which I was referring is “Ultimate Zone Rating.” Zone Rating was simply based on the number of chances per inning in the field. Ultimate Zone Rating is based on people keeping track of balls hit to general vicinities and how often fielders in that zone get to the ball. Basically, what the tally is how far a fielder gets when he reaches balls (for outs or errors) and how far away balls are that elude him.

            One thing that is clear is that how well fielders get to balls varies quite a bit over the course of a season. Little things like the condition of your legs, things affecting your eye-sight (e.g., allergies, tiredness, weather conditions, etc.) all can vary quite a bit, and these things really affect how well you see a batted ball.

          • Kyle

            Not exactly.

            Well, for one thing, there is no single statistic called “WAR.” WAR is more of a concept than a statistic.

            More importantly, UZR is not just a statistic. It is a bad statistic. It is prone to wild fluctuations and takes three years of data, at least, to stabilize.

            IIRC, UZR actually uses some subjective data for batted-ball location and speed.

            • Pat

              My mistake then. I had thought it an interpretive stat like WAR

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Even “interpretive” is not quite what WAR is. It really is just a complex summary statistic, based on correlations: particular outcomes (K’s, singles, HR, catches, etc.) correlate with an expected number of runs, and an expected number of runs correlates to a certain number of wins. It’s basically a multiple regression summary of the relationships between variables.

                UZR, on the other hand, describes successes over a semi-subjective assessment of possible chances, and then correlates that to runs based on the idea that every X PAs prevented saves an average of one run.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              What makes UZR interesting is that it quantifies traditional scouting data. However, instead of just noting “he can go a long way to his right, but not so far to his left,” they actually measure how quickly a guy gets to balls hit to his right/left. (Time really is more important than distance, as it obviously is much easier to get to a popup 50′ to your right than it is to get to a line drive 50′ to your right.)

              From that, you get a distribution of how frequently a guy gets X feet in Y seconds, and you can start putting a repeatable measure on something that we used to just describe with words.

  • elephanthole

    I think a gold glove would be awesome for Soriano. It would be like the opposite of everything we thought before.

  • Sam

    He will definitely be a finalist for the Gold Glove. The numbers can’t be denied. The assists are there, the total chances are there. Regardless, kudos to him for working his butt off and being so much improved from the prior years.

    • Randy

      agreed. exactly. When will people get off his butt. Simply the guy signed a contract that all of us would sign and He has worked his tail off and is good with the younger kids.

  • Cedlandrum

    Well Bryan LaHair was an all-star so why can’t Soriano win a gold glove. I am all for it.

  • BD

    I would have said “no,” based on my assumption that while he has less errors, his range is lower so more hits go by him or land in front of him, etc. However, seeing that his chances are much different than the rest of those guys, I’d say he should definitely be in the conversation for LEFT fielders (especially since his offensive numbers are good, even though that shouldn’t matter for this award- but that’s for another post entirely).

  • Deez

    It’s not the balls he gets to, it’s the one he doesn’t.
    (So to Speak)
    If you watch the Cubs play & balls hit to LF, you’ll notice he can’t hold runners to long 1B or long 2B. Soriano doesn’t put forth the effort to make a play closer or make exceptional defensive plays in the gaps.
    He’s an average LF not a Gold Glover.

    • Randy

      Not sure what Cubs team you are watching

      • Cyranojoe

        Last year’s team. He can’t have been watching this year’s team, with this year’s Soriano. Dude is hustling almost every play. I’ve seen a very small handful of muffed plays that he couldn’t quite get to this year, and a ton of HOLYCOWWTF plays that I would never in a million years have thought he’d make as recent as the start of this season.

  • KaneCoCubs

    The gold glove is a very arbitrary baseball award. I’m not completely educated on who votes for the award, but those voters don’t seem completely educated on defensive baseball. Alfonso Soriano has every bit of, if not more right to win a gold glove as Derek Jeter has in years past. He probably won’t win it for the same reason Jeter has – their reputation. The award doesn’t even seem to go to the best defender most years (remember the year Adrian Gonzalas won?). I think Barney actually has weaker odds than Brandon Phillips to win the 2nd base award this year. Phillips has been in the league longer and is a better hitter. Neither of those reason should affect a gold glove award but they will.

    • Webb

      Name change from this one

    • Cyranojoe

      True, but that streak of no errors, I think, will push Barney over the hump. Voters are managers and coaches; managers can’t vote for their own players (got this from Wikipedia). Wikipedia also reports that, while reputation has had a big impact on votes, errors (and the lack thereof) also seems to dominate the selection process.

      Knock on wood, Barney surpasses Ryno this week and gets a lot more press as a result…

    • John

      I’m not sure barney is a better defender than phillips, actually.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    I’m not completely educated on who votes for the award, but those voters don’t seem completely educated on defensive baseball.

    The managers and coaches vote on the award, with the one caveat that they are not allowed (or not supposed to) vote for their own players. This might not contradict your conclusion, however!

    And, yes, Phillips superior bat probably will garner him the award over Barney. The Golden Glove is as much Silver Slugger as anything else.

  • Timmy

    Impressive! Glad to see him get a second wind in the latter half of his career.

  • Mysterious4th

    Honestly I think he has a shot. This is the best defensive year of his career in my opinion. And who would have thought with 30 games left he has NOT made an error. Wasn’t it last season or the season before he had 3 or 5 errors in his first few games of the year?

  • Fastball

    Do they track how many flew over his head into the bleachers? How many times did he have to run back to the wall and look up. I hope he gets considered. He is working hard to improve his game and I cannot fault him for that. If nothing else he should be commended for improving his game in all area’s at his age. Soriano is a good Cub.

  • Andy

    UZR has always been kind to Soriano. It’s only had him below average once since coming to the Cubs (2009) and it ranks his 2007 season as the 7th-best fielding season ever.

  • Spriggs

    I will be shocked if the GG doesn’t go to Cargo.

    • Brett

      I’d be tempted to give it to him on the strength of that one throw against the Cubs, alone (you know, the one for which he received an error).


    Somebody , everyone knock on wood cause the thought of Soriano deserving a gold glove- may just cause him to have three errors tonight. Soriano has had a good year for the Cubs without him this year it would have been a total train wreck rather than just the train wreck .. The man has played a good solid season give him his due .

  • alsongs

    If someone had predicted last season that in 2012 Soriano would crash into the bricks at Wrigley to catch a ball there would have been 100% naysaying (myself included). It seems like no less than a miracle to me, and that’s not taking in improvement at the plate into consideration. You gotta give the guy credit for almost an unbelievable improvement this year. Gold glove or not.

  • madprizamwoo

    Sorino has had a good season for his abilities. However, if he’s the GG then the NL has a serious deficit of quality defensive LF’s.

    This guy played errorless LF and put up decent #’s and we still can’t trade, WTF.

    I guess we will just have to watch him tutor the youngins for the next two seasons. :)

  • Puma0821

    By all accounts they could have traded him to Giants but he vetoed it. Also I’m sure they could have traded him for scraps but there is no reason to. BTW, there IS a serious deficit of quality defensive LF’s… that qualify.

  • Dougy D

    While I appreciate that Soriano is actually putting in a sincere effort in LF this year, he is definitely below average defensively. He takes bad lines to the ball, eases up well before he approaches any danger, and is simply slow. I will give him a green star for the effort, certainly not anything near a gold glove.

    • PJ

      With all due respect Dougy, I think you are including previous years in your assessment. Brenly made the observation once, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone take as large a defensive leap forward as Sori has this year.” He’s right. If you have watched him this year, Soriano has taken straight line paths to balls, gone hard in, to the right and to the left, and shown much more comfort and willingingness to go to the wall and into the corner which has resulted in numerous good plays. His arm, which has always been his one plus side as an outfielder, has been good as well. If you can block out previous years, when he was awful (not to mention terrible, hopless and scary as all get out), and just look at what he has done this year, I think it is fair to say he has been a good outfielder in 2012.The numbers serve as further evidence of that. He is definitely above average in a crop of not very good left fielders. I think if he doesn’t win, it very well be due to his reputation (well deserved and earned) as a crappy outfielder in the past. The other thing that could cost him is if one of the other left fielders prove to be more flashy (in the field) which is certainly possible. I have always thought that the voters (managers and coaches) use two criteria – fielding stats and whether or not they can recall some web gems against them. This is just a hunch, mind you, and I have no way of quantifying it.

  • art

    Dougy, i agree he is not a GG LF’er “this year”. he has improved from past years but no way is he a GG. JMO.