Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun won his first career award Tuesday evening as he was named the American League Gold Glove winner for right field.
Calhoun beat out the Detroit Tigers’ J.D. Martinez and Josh Reddick of the Oakland Athletics. Calhoun made only four errors in 357 chances and had 11 outfield assists. He made numerous diving catches and also slammed into the wall a few times to rob some extra-base hits. Calhoun also had a breakout year at the plate, setting career highs for both home runs with 26 and runs batted in with 83 while batting .256.
In the world of advanced baseball metric stats, Calhoun finished highest in most areas, which is what ultimately gave him the nod over Martinez and Reddick. Calhoun had a 13.8 ultimate zone rating and also saved six defensive runs. His defensive index, which is a major part in the voting, was 10.5, which was much better than any other AL right fielder.
Now for me being a baseball old-timer (40 years following the game), I don’t quite get some of these stats, but I do know this, Calhoun was very deserving of the award and I’m sure this will not be his last Gold Glove award during his career.
Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout makes another robbery at Camden Yards in 2015, taking an extra-base hit away from Alejandro De Aza of Baltimore. Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
On the other hand, Mike Trout did not win a Gold Glove for AL center fielders, as he was beaten out by the Tampa Bay Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier.
This is not to take anything away from Kiermaier, as I have watched some of his highlights and he is a special fielder for sure, however I struggle to understand all the baseball metrics that led to Kiermaier being chosen as the winner. Kiermaier had an ultimate zone rating of 30.0. He made four errors in 430 total chances for a .988 fielding percentage and had 15 outfield assists. Kiermaier also saved 42 runs known as (DRS), according to the metric stats.
Meanwhile, Trout had 435 total chances and made no errors for a perfect fielding percentage of 1.000 with seven outfield assists. Trout also has six defensive runs saved.
Here is where I take issues with the metrics. I went to 20 plus Angels games this season as well as watching countless others on television. I know I have seen Trout make plays that have saved numerous runs, way more than the six he is given credit for. I saw at least four home run robberies he made this year live, the last one being the robbery of a three-run homer by Seattle’s Jesus Montero where Trout climbed the center field wall at the Big “A” to bring the ball back, saving the game and the season at that point.
My question is how do they measure defensive runs saved or ultimate zone rating? Some of these new baseball metric stats just don’t add up to me and I’m not the only one who feels this way. Here is a quote from earlier this season by Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
“We have overhead cameras that read jumps and he’s off incredibly quick,” said Scioscia in an interview with Los Angeles Times writer Mike DiGiovanna. “From a scouting perspective, there is no question this guy is one of the best center fielders in our game. The ground he covers is unbelievable. The whole notion of using technology to quantify what we see is really good, but I want to know what the technology is, and if it’s accurate, what’s going on.”
Even Kiermaier himself doesn’t understand the metrics that helped him win his first Gold Glove.
“I just go out there and play,” said Kiermaier during the ESPN Rawlings Gold Glove Awards Show. “No idea how they calculated (DRS). No idea what all that stuff means. I just go out there and make plays for my pitchers.”
Trout also weighed in with a thought-provoking quote that was published on azquotes.com.
“I just keep thinking about putting up good numbers, playing hard and winning games,” said Trout, who is the reigning 2014 AL MVP and is a finalist for the 2015 AL MVP Award. “Technology is ruled by two types of people: those who manage what they do not understand and those who understand what they do not manage.”
If you read into this quote, you could say Trout’s beliefs about these technology-based metric stats are similar to Scioscia and Kiermaier. Basically, he doesn’t put too much weight on them, but instead tries to go out there and do whatever it takes to help his team win games. All awards aside, this is the way it should be in sports. These metric numbers are nice, but hardly anyone seems to understand them. I myself would feel more comfortable with them if I understood the calculations and made sure they were fair.
My congratulations goes to Kevin Kiermaier on winning the Gold Glove award in 2015. However, in my mind and most Los Angeles Angels fans’ minds, Mike Trout is our Gold Glove winner. No metrics needed.