Now that Epictober is over and the games are done, the Major League Baseball award season kicks off tonight with the announcing of the annual Gold Glove winners. Four Angels are among the finalists for the American League’s Gold Glove Award at their respective positions: Dan Haren, SP; Erick Aybar, SS; Peter Bourjos, CF; and Torii Hunter, RF. Let’s examine their chances after the jump:
- Starting Pitcher- Mark Buehrle (White Sox), Dan Haren (Angels), Fausto Carmona (Indians)
Haren is a nice story here, as his errorless season will attest, but Buehrle is entering Maddux and Kaat territory with the glove. The other finalists are league average at best. Buerhle saving 9 runs defensively as a pitcher in not just above league average, it is altogether in another league. Projected Winner- Buerhle.
- Shortstop- Erick Aybar (Angels), J.J. Hardy (Orioles), Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians)
Aybar gives the Angels credibility up the middle and can turn a double play (2.1 DPR in ’11) and doesn’t give runs away (0 DRS), but he doesn’t save any either and his Ultimate Zone Rating is nowhere near Hardy’s. Cabrera is on the list via some looping ESPN highlights that mainly involved behind the back flips and barehanded snagtosses, but metrically speaking, he does not belong. Give him five years and he may be the new Paper Jeter. Projected Winner- Hardy
- Center Field- Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox), Austin Jackson (Tigers), Peter Bourjos (Angels)
In what is probably the most legitimate collection of finalists the center field category is almost too close to call. Run prevention is certainly the most important aspect of any defender’s job description and Jackson and Bourjos are well ahead of Ellsbury in both Defensive Runs Saved and ARM rating. [Aside: The Angels have an interesting dilemma next season if Bourjos hits with any regularity. His glove certainly necessitates playing time and with a perennial Gold Glove in right field (Torii Hunter) and Mantle 2.0 in center (Mike Trout) Los Angeles will have the best defensive outfield in all of baseball. Vernon Wells will be exposed as a very expensive one dimensional albatross if he hasn’t been already.] A centerfielder is also supposed to get to any ball he can and reduce the gaps. Nobody does this better than Ellsbury, and he plays in the quirkiest centerfield this side of Tall’s Hill. Take his double digit range stats (Range Runs Prevented; Ultimate Zone Rating) add the requisite East Coast Bias and give him the award. Projected Winner- Ellsbury
- Right Field- Nick Markakis (Orioles), Torii Hunter (Angels), Jeff Francoeur (Royals)
For all intents and purposes, Francouer looks to be the leader here as his ARM is well known in both clubhouses and studio highlight rooms. Hunter did not get to nearly as many balls, has a UZR just a tick below the league average and a declining arm. However his 15 Defensive Runs Saved is the best of this bunch are his 9 consecutive Gold Gloves from 2001-2009. The permanent switch to right field this season earns him one more. Projected Winner- Hunter
ESPN2 will televise the first-ever Rawlings Gold Glove Awards Show tonight at 10 p.m. ET. The one-hour telecast,will include the announcement of the 2011 Gold Glove Award winners and extensive highlights and analysis of the best defensive performers and plays during the MLB regular season.