No Gold Gloves for the Pirates (and a minor rant about defense)

Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Russell Martin were all "nominated" for Gold Gloves this year, but all three missed out on the awards for their individual positions when they were handed out on Tuesday night. McCutchen lost to Carlos Gomez in center and Martin lost to Yadier Molina, both of which were justified results, while Starling Marte lost to Carlos Gonzalez in a decision that was harder to figure. 

This year's awards had a "sabermetric component," though presumably most of the vote was still made up of managers and coaches as in the past. I still don't think much about the Gold Gloves as an award that I, as a fan, care that much about; I shrugged it off when McCutchen won his Gold Glove last year and I'm going to shrug it off again with him not winning it this year. 

What I will say is this: it seems to me that the more that we learn about defense, the more that it seems clear that defense is very much about positioning and about defense as a whole rather than defense as an individual effort. I'd be willing to bet that having Starling Marte beside him for most of the season is part of the reason that Andrew McCutchen scored better in the advanced fielding metrics in 2013. The Pirates' infield featured no real standout defenders besides Clint Barmes, who more or less lost his job at mid-season, and yet they were incredibly efficient at turning ground balls into outs because the Pirates were as good or better at putting their players in the right places than any other team. 

In any case, I understand that the drive in baseball has always been to quantify the contribution of one player and that that's been true from RBIs and errors on through wRC+ and DRS, but I suppose that at this point, it feels to me like defense in baseball is a situation in which the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. That certainly seemed like the case with this year's Pirates to me, and so while I would've liked to see the Pirates bring home a Gold Glove or two (Marte was particularly deserving, and McCutchen was definitely much improved this year in a lot of different ways), I just can't get too bothered over the unfairness of this award in particular. 

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.