It was just over one year ago that frustration out of the annual Gold Glove shitshow prompted the Walkoff Walk Gilded Leather Awards. We handed out awards to the fielders we felt were best at each of their positions and leagues.
Bill James and his cadre of rosin-stained wretches awarded their Fielding Bible Awards Silk Gloves already this offseason. The traditional Gold Glove winners are set to drop at noon today and, to be frank, I don't have high hopes. Defensive stats are gaining more and more acceptance in the mainstream media, but that won't stop our favorite coaches and managers from pretty much ignoring their existence and voting based on who made the most recent diving catch. Not that Derek Sanderson Jeter isn't due a good feting after his long climb up the long mountain named "mediocrity", but I'd like to think the Gilded Leather awards are about more than lifetime achievement.
I've looked at stats and I've looked at "tape." As stated before, I don't want this to be a purely mechanical pursuit. If the numbers check out and my gut agrees; congrats. You're the proud owner of Gilded Leather. To the listicle!
Quite a few hold-overs from last year. Yadier Molina at the top is tough to argue, he throws out a high percentage though so few souls are brave enough to run on him. I was tempted to replace Albert Pujols with one of Adrian Gonzalez or Derrek Lee, but Pujols showed so much range and ability to reach balls that most first baseman don't I couldn't bring myself to do it. Chutley wins again because Chutley should always be winning something. There is a tremendous amount of joy to be gained watching Rafael Furcal fire rockets across the infield. Ryan Zimmerman is a lonely, lonely man who needs our love and affection. The outfield choices were tough, but Colby Rasmus is an exciting player to watch, as is the studly Matt Kemp. Nyjer Morgan gets the nod for his overwhelming numbers and I feel that if he isn't showered with praise for his glovework, the ghost of Jim Bowden might hire a power hitting fire hydrant to play centerfield for the Nats.
Believe you-me, nothing pains me more than giving Kevin Youkilis credit for anything. That said, he's a damn fine first baseman, a decent third baseman, and a trooper for playing left field in a pinch. Aaron Hill gets the nod at second base because I'm allowed at least one homer pick, might as well use it on a guy that deserves it. Honorably mentions to all the guys with higher UZR's that can go pound salt. Elvis Andrus gets the Nyjer Morgan Award for Defensive Guy that Needs Recognition for his Defense Lest his Entire Existence be Invalidated. Also, his name is Elvis! Evan Longoria wins the award for third because soon every baseball award, event, and statistic will be named after him. The Evan Longoria Honorary Arbitration Selloff Contract. The Evan Longoria Reliever of the Week. The Evan Longoria Drug Test. The Evan Longoria Scorers Decision Error, brought to you by Evan Longoria.
You may notice a typo in the outfield. "Drew, you unoriginal boob, you listed Franklin Gutierrez twice." That is right, I did. Franklin Gutierrez is a smell test for the Gold Gloves and life in general. If he is not recognized for his insane play in the field, his ability to run down balls with ease that ALL others would be plucking out of the grass; then the whole system is invalid. I want to make sure we all appreciate Death to Flying Things and how much fun it is to watch him chase balls around vast green expanses.
No awards for pitchers this year because honestly, what's the point? Actually, scratch that. Because he played in both leagues and because he did this, Cliff Lee wins the Gilded Pitching Leather. It isn't really broken in and you can't expose your forefinger as God intended, but he still puts it to good use.
So there you have it. I expect all our beloved commenters and readers to chime in with their write-in votes which I will summarily dismiss. If you think giving one player two awards isn't fair, who would you tip for the final AL outfield slot? Is the Gold Gloves list going to look anything like this?