Major League Baseball’s Gold Glove awards were recently announced and once again voters confirmed that this is baseball’s equivalent to the Daytime Emmy.
Now to prove my point, I could name a number of defensive metrics showing why Ryan Zimmerman, Daric Barton, and Adrian Beltre should have a new paperweight for their office desk or that Derek Jeter was arguably the AL’s worst shortstop, but that’s all been done before. If there’s one example needed to prove why this award is a farce, look no further than the AL’s Gold Glove 1st baseman in 1999: Rafael Palmeiro.
Perhaps voters were looking at the 1 error, the .996 fielding percentage, or the fact that he was the winner in the two previous years, but there was no less deserving Gold Glover in the history the game. Why you ask? Because of the 158 games that Palmeiro played in 1999, only 28 were at 1st base with the rest coming as. . . . wait for it. . . . DH. That’s right, the voters chose someone who played less than 250 innings in the field as a Gold Glove winner. Talk about a slap in the face of any previous or future Gold Glove winners. If it wasn’t a joke already, that was the point when the Gold Glove jumped the shark.
If anything, it proves that the voting criteria has nothing to do with being the best defensive player. So what are the criteria?
- Have a great or breakout offensive year
- Win the award the year before
- Make unnecessary jump throws on ground balls to the hole while wearing pinstripes (Jetermetrics!)
Palmeiro met two of these criteria in 1999, as he finished the season hitting .324, 47 hr, and 148 rbi and he was the incumbent Gold Glover from 1998. He didn’t meet the 3rd criteria, but that one is normally reserved for the captain of the Yankees and he has 5 shiny gloves to show for it.