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darwin barney gold gloveLast night, the Gold Glove Awards were handed out to the “best” defensive players in baseball. And, as has historically been an issue with the award, name recognition and offensive value seemed to conspire to vitiate the reliability of the award, which is supposed to be entirely about defense.

One need look no further than Paul Goldschmidt taking home the Gold Glove at first base over Anthony Rizzo to know that actual defensive ability probably wasn’t the sole driving force behind the managerial/coaching votes. Name an important defensive metric, and Rizzo was the leader – often by a considerable margin. UZR/150? Rizzo 9.2, Goldschmidt 4.4. Defensive Runs Saved? Rizzo 16, Goldschmidt 13. Total defensive value? Rizzo -3.9, Goldschmidt -7.0. Even if you go by an old school metrics like fielding percentage, the two players were tied. The number that probably mattered? OPS. Rizzo .742, Goldschmidt .952.

As for Darwin Barney, he lost out this year to Brandon Phillips’ name and “flair.” Once again, just look at the numbers: UZR/150? Barney 15.5, Phillips 8.5. Defensive Runs Saved? Barney 11, Phillips 1 (that’s an entire win’s worth of a difference!). Total defensive value? Barney 14.7, Phillips 10.9. Hell, fielding percentage? Barney .993, Phillips .987.

The reality of the Gold Glove? Yes, it mostly recognizes the best defensive players in baseball, and the recent development of a relationship with SABR to allow voters to see advanced statistics when they cast their votes is a step in the right direction. But players without a big name or a big bat will always be under-recognized.

The numbers say Rizzo and Barney were clearly the best defensive players at their position this year in the NL (Welington Castillo was, too, but I’m not about to complain about Yadier Molina winning). But Rizzo and Barney played on a crappy team, and didn’t do much with the bat. So they lose.

You can see the full list of Gold Glove winners here.

  • Chris S

    What a joke.

    • http://odu Greenroom

      +1

  • Chad

    Other than Adam Jones (-2), Phillips had the lowest defensive runs saved (1). Andrelton Simmons had 41! Holy smokes.

    These gold glove awards are completely offensive (pun intended) to anyone who enjoys/appreciates the defensive side of baseball.

    • D-Rock

      Simmons is ridiculous. Well deserved of that award and will probably win this for the next 10 years straight. He’s a vacuum cleaner at SS.

  • Justin

    The “Gold Glove” is a joke. What about players who are bad with the bat and glove like our very own Starlin Castro. Could the double negative at being bad a both bring them back in the discussion for a “Gold Glove” ;)

  • Chad

    A quote from Phillips:
    “Wow, hard work pays off,” Phillips said. “I take pride in my defense and try to go out there to make the pitching staff feel comfortable while they’re on the mound. I like being the pitcher’s best friend. People overlook defense these days.”

    Yes Brandon, they surely do.

    • Jim

      I remember Brandon having a hissy fit last year when Darwin won the gold glove. He is a spoiled little brat.

  • kscubfan

    In other news 1/3 of the Cubs starter are very good at a position they field for 9 innings a game.

  • kgd

    Maybe they think the best defense is a good offense. I would say that’s a faulty line of reasoning for the Gold Glove if that’s the way they think.

  • Brian

    Love the fake humble response from Phillips. He doesn’t have a humble bone in his body.

    • Edwin

      Being humble is just one of the many things Phillips is good at. Ask him, he’ll tell you.

  • Justin

    The thing that’s mind boggling is that baseball allows something like the Gold Glove voting to go on. Does it really make baseball more popular when Goldschmidt and Phillips win the gold glove because they had better all around years than Rizzo and Barney? Maybe I am in a minority as a baseball fan who actually wants the Gold Glove winner to go to the guy who had the best defensive year at his given position?? If it’s too close to tell the who the winner is, sure give it to the guy with the better overall yr. The way it is now, is just insane…

    • Jono

      “Does it really make baseball more popular when Goldschmidt and Phillips win the gold glove…”

      Maybe, yeah. I don’t know for sure, but it’s definitely a possibility. And I’m not endorsing the idea of choosing the gold glove winners based on marketing potential. I want the best defenders to win with, period(.).

      (see what I did there, Brett?)

      • Jono

        “…best defenders to win *it*…” not “with”

    • Castro to Barney to Chance

      Echoing Jono — it probably does. To the extent that you can build a narrative, name recognition, etc. around someone like Phillips or Goldschmidt that’s good for baseball. Giving it to Darwin Barney — who may not be a starter next year — doesn’t do much beyond (a) vindicate Cubs fans and (b) appease people already so interested in baseball that they know what the hell UZR is ;)

  • Camiata2

    What are the odds that Phillips with stay up late at night gazing into the mirror, caressing the trophy, saying, “they really do like me. I knew last year was a fluke.” Even odds? I’m taking suggestions.

  • Norm

    eh, the Fielding Bible also chose Goldschmidt, so I don’t think offense really played a role. Goldy led in “Good Fielding Plays” (Baseball Info Solutions) and was the first player to have over 100 of those in a season.

  • Chris

    Agreed, Brett. Agreed.

  • Dawn

    Managers were even given the stats to look at this year. I’m so disappointed. 2 Gold Gloves would have been a real bright spot in an otherwise dismal year.

  • josh ruiter

    Two things:
    1. this gold glove voting is a travesty. Take voters out of it. Where SABR stats have entered the game putting a number on what used to be the “immeasurable” parts of defense, there really isn’t a need to allow human error. Let the stats compiled decide it, and guess what…3 Cubs would have won, and rightly so.
    2. Defense clearly means little or at least is a still small part of winning. By numbers, the Cubs fielded 3/8 of the best defenders at their positions in the NL. That would have put them far ahead of the nearest team if defense is what wins championships. Clearly it is base runners and pitching. We put nobody on base and had nearly the worst bullpen in the NL. And thus we finished 2nd to last in the NL. We need Choo and we need someone other than Barney at 2nd. It’s a process but clearly Moneyball and Billy Beane had it right. The difference? The Cubs have money, so moneyballing with money should be an easier science.

    • Chad

      Haven’t you been paying attention, the cubs are broke, so there goes that.
      I agree that if GG is for defense you need to used the advanced metrics. It’s the best evaluation of defense.

      Agree with you on Barney for sure though.

      • josh ruiter

        Chad,
        Broke is an overstatement bro. They are discussing Tanaka and others, saying they may only be able to land one premier player this year b/c of finances. That is still far and away above what the A’s do year in and year out, yet they contend regularly.

        • Castro to Barney to Chance

          The As landed a premier int’l FA just two years ago…

        • Chad

          Josh,

          That was sarcasm BRO.

  • Blublud

    I know Breast Cancer awareness month is almost over, but in honor of my Aunt, a 2 time survivor, I am going to make a donation to her group who is hosting a fund raiser tomorrow. I’m going to donate $100 plus $5 for everybody on this site that helps me. All you have to do is google Breast Cancer Awareness and become familiar with how you can help, either by volunteering or making donations. After that, go to Gravatar.com and change your avatar to something pink until midnight and then reply to this post . For each reply to this post I have by midnight with a pink avatar, I will donate $5. There is no limit. The purpose of this is to make people more aware of what they can do to help. Thanks in advance for your support.

    • DarthHater

      My mom was not a survivor. I’m in. Thanks, Blub.

    • ssckelley

      Done

    • ssckelley

      I think I will reply to this a few hundred times so Blub has to fork over the clams. He said no limits! :D

      You going to post proof of this donation?

      • DarthHater

        I don’t need any proof. Any excuse for bringing out the photo of pink-haired Samuel L. Jackson is good enough for me.

  • Jono

    I would like a new saber stat that counts the amount of plays made that wouldn’t be counted as errors if the play wasn’t successfully made. Basically, it would be like a web gem stat, measuring which fielders are able to make the most impressive plays.

    Maybe the stat alreay exists, I’m not very familiar with saber

    • Edwin

      It would be a tough stat to rely on, since it would rely on a lot of human judgement, which makes it subject to human error. You’d also need to consider that sometimes a good defender can make a tough play look easier than it is, while a bad defender can make an easy play look tougher than it is.

      • Jono

        That’s true, I often disagree with error / non-error calls (more errors should be called, in my opinion). It would be up to the scorekeeper to record such a play and they’re already scoring errors, so it’s already a duty they’re responsible for. But yeah, most saber stats are more objective. I think they can do it

        • Edwin

          Hopefully we’ll have a Field F/X system someday similar to Pitch F/X which would be able to track where a defender was positioned when the ball is struck, and where the fielder is when the ball lands. If it can be combined with some type of Hit F/X to measure the speed of the ball (or even the trajectory) off the bat, then you’d be able to add context like how a fielder performs on harder hit balls.

    • Edwin

      I like your line of thinking though. That’s how progress gets made.

  • josh ruiter

    Let me list it actually, b/c maybe our naming Barney the best is premature.
    By DRS your gold glovers are:
    C – Wellington Castillo
    1B – Anthony Rizzo
    2B – Mark Ellis
    3B – Nolan Arenaldo
    SS – Andrelton Simmons
    OF – Carlos Gomez
    OF – Gerardo Parra
    OF – Juan Lagares
    P – Patrick Corbin

  • Andy

    If it makes anyone feel better, the Fielding Bible, which says “no offense” and “no reputation” taken into account still selected Goldschmidt and Molina. Which is to say, the Gold Glove award voters aren’t the only ones to screw it up

  • Kramden

    If it’s all about advanced defensive metrics, why not just have a computer spit out the winners instead of a purely subjective popular vote among managers & coaches???

  • mjhurdle

    Looks like Lovullo is doing some pre-interview PR work :)

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/23419783-419/red-sox-coach-torey-lovullo-praises-cubs-plan-before-expected-interview.html

    Also, Dropkick Murphys doing the National Anthem tonight in Boston. Huge improvement over Rascal Flatts imo.

  • another JP

    After a slow defensive start the Cubs wound up being the third best team in the majors per Fangraphs behind the Orioles and DBacks. If not for Castro they might have been #1.

    • Cubbie Blues
      • another JP

        I used the fielding Def values but that definitely indicates the Cubs team defense is no fluke.

        • Cubbie Blues

          Huh, so what is the difference between the two number?

      • kscubfan

        Well with the improvement on the pitching staff going from 5th worse in WHIP last year to 13th this year, if pitching and defense wins championships the Cubs are on the right path. Who needs to score runs.

        • Cubbie Blues

          Well, if Castro bounces back and Rizzo’s BABIP regresses, when Javy and Bryant make it up we should be scoring some runs too. Not to mention Castillo’s improvement last year.

          • kscubfan

            True, I am getting to the point where it might actually be probable, not just possible, that the Cubs could be a dark horse team next year.

            Keep the pitching and defense improvements going with a few more runs and some good luck hey we could be above .500.

            • Voice of Reason

              A dark horse?

              I’m not sure we even know who is playing:

              LF, CF, 3B and 2B

              Those positions will be filled by marginal free agents or someone who is just filling that hole while we wait for the youngsters to develop in the minors.

              Our right fielder is very average and I don’t see that improving. Sure Rizzo and Castro could rebound and really improve, but that is certainly not going to be enough to overcome our offensive struggles.

              This team will be lucky to lose less than 90 games again. I think we’ll be closer to where we were in 2013 in terms of wins.

              • ChuckEWil

                This team needs young talent to develop. I’m interested in learning where you (Voice of Reason) think Junior is going to play next year? Clearly LF or Center. I have two questions for everyone. Is it too early to go out and get a guy like David Price for 2015? Secondly where is the final destination for Castro and Barney?
                My impression right now for 2015 infield from 3rd to 1st is Bryant Baez Castro Rizzo and in the outfieldleft to right Lake Almora Soler. The oldest player there is Rizzo being 26 at the start of the season. I think now if we can get top end pitching is the time not blow up minors for it but starting to look for that ace with the young arms we have competing in 2015 is a chance.

                • Eternal pessemist

                  Castro is a better ss in the majors right now than castro is in the minors so I would flip those two. Also, Baez might be able to handle third better than Bryant. Hopefully bryant continues to improve there so he won’t be shifted to RF. Otherwisw I would like Baez strong arm ar 3B and hope Alcantara eventually makes it to 2B.

                  • Eternal pessemist

                    Castro > ss now than Baez!

              • kscubfan

                Well that is why I said dark horse…lol. But seriously, Brett did a couple of articles saying this years team should have won more games than it did. Starting there the bullpen looks to have more talent. Better years out of Rizzo and Castro give you more runs. Throw in some good luck and we are off in running.

  • cub1

    Anybody else notice that immediately after selecting Goldschmidt they refer to his offensive numbers?

  • dumbledoresacubsfan

    Obviously, making this many moves isn’t really possible. But I’d like to see something along the lines of signing Choo/Cruz, Tanaka, Suzuki, and Nolasco/Logan, if possible.

    Think they kick the tires on something like that or is the money/talent not there?

    Kurt Suzuki/Jose Molina
    Chris Young/Nate McLouth
    Corey Hart/Nelson Cruz
    Boone Logan/Jesse Crain
    Grant Balfour
    Ricky Nolasco/Bronson Arroyo
    Choo
    Tanaka

    • Rizzo1684

      I like most of these guys as well. I don’t see them paying top dollars for a closer though so take off Balfour, Hart is a 1b and will stay in Mil, I really don’t want Bronson, I really like Choo but that guy is about to get paid. I really think we will see an offseason of Tanaka, Young/McLouth, a backup catcher, and maybe a veteran reliever.

      • dumbledoresacubsfan

        Balfour and Hart were my two that I had to talk myself into considering. I’d much prefer Cruz to Hart, but it’s a toss-up between Young and McLouth.

        I certainly wouldn’t mind Tanaka, Young/McLouth, Suzuki/Molina, and one of Boone Logan/Jesse Crain, if not someone a little better.

        I think if those moves (or similar moves) happen, we could probably add another decent starter. Which could possibly make the Samardzija stuff easier.

        • dumbledoresacubsfan

          Erik Bedard?

    • ChuckEWil

      I think you can’t fill any long term holes as I posted earlier. 2014 is a lost season win 70+ and get better offensively stay healthy and develop the talent in the minors for 2015.

  • ssckelley

    I don’t understand why both the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove award has to be voted on. It should go to the player that statistically leads either offensive or defensive categories.

    I know this would never happen but having a combined award makes more sense. A Most Valuable at each position, again using statistical metrics and not a voting system like the All Star game. Basically this is what the Gold Glove award has turned into. I look at a guy like Barney and I feel like he does not deserve an award because last year he did not hit enough to even justify being in the lineup everyday.

    • Andrew

      the problem with this, especially on defense, is that there are a lot of defensive metrics to choose from so just picking someone based on stats doesnt work, there is inevitably subjectiveness. Heck even offensively, there isnt one agreed upon stat that tells who is the best offensive player.

      • ssckelley

        The use a combination of defensive stats. IMO it is still more fair than voting.

      • Cubbie Blues

        wRC+ begs to differ.

        On a serious note, FanGraphs now has a new stat, Def, it combines the defensive metrics to give you one stat to look at. It’s not the end all be all, but at least it is a step in the right direction.

  • Andrew

    I understand being annoyed with Phillips but i dont see why Goldschmidt isn’t worthy. He won the Fielding Bible award which is actually based on fielding. There is always going to be subjectivity in fielding awards because even the metrics themselves are somewhat subjective. The metrics are also notoriously unreliable over a single season. I trust the guys that vote on the Fielding Bible Awards to use a good mix of subjectiveness and metrics to figure out who are the best fielders.

  • Stu

    Maybe MLB is sending a message to the CUBS. Stop pretending Barney is a legitimate starting 2nd basemen. Get over it.

    • ssckelley

      He was up until last season I could live with a defensive second baseman if he hits at least what Barney produced in 2011 and 2012. As bad as Barney hit last season he does not deserve any kind of award.

  • FastBall

    The real truth of the matter is if Barney was batting 4th behind Choo, Votto and whomever he would have had 100 RBI’s like Phillips. I read an article out of Cincy where Phillips should have had 150 RBI’s based on the OBP those guys had this year. Phillips actually sucked at driving in runs with runners in scoring position. So based on how bad he sucks offensively and is anything less than top notch on defense as compared to Barney. I could care less about his Flair. Hell the Reds can’t stand the guy and want to unload him if they can.

  • FastBall

    I am being a wise ass about Barney having 100 RBI’s.

  • Aaron

    Fastball…just think how many RBI’s Rizzo would have with Choo and Votto batting in front of him this past season? Certainly well over 100.

  • Aaron

    Big Z making making another comeback attempt to be in the majors again! He’s a starting pitcher for Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League.

  • ruby2626

    Aaron, too lazy to look it up but you do know rizzo hit about .200 or perhaps even less with men in scoring position, if that gets you 100 RBI’s then a guy having a good season would probably have around 130.

    I would love to see today’s metrics back in Ryne Sandberg’s day. I’m not saying it’s true or false but his critics used to say he was overrated as a fielder, that his gold gloves were based simply on the fact that he made all the routine plays. How often did his uniform get dirty from diving for a ball? From what I do recall Barney makes many more spectacular defensive plays than Ryno did.

    • Cubbie Blues

      ruby, you know that clutch is a myth right?

      • jh03

        Oh boy. You probably just opened a huge can of worms with that one. haha.

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