by Daniel Gettinger
The National League Gold Glove winners were announced today. Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez won his second consecutive gold glove. Despite heavy support from the Padres and the San Diego media, Kevin Kouzmanoff, who set the National League single season record for fielding percentage, did not win an award.
Before I touch on Adrian’s award, I want to reiterate that Kouzmanoff did not deserve to win a gold glove this season. Sure, he made very few errors, but he also has limited range. Ryan Zimmerman was clearly the best fielding third-baseman in the National League. His UZR of 18.1 was more than double Kouz’s 7.5. Zimmerman also bested Kouz by a significant margin in Tom Tango’s community scouting report.
As for Adrian…At first, I was surprised to see him win the award again this season. Most Padres fans know Gonzalez is a pretty good fielding first baseman, but I had just assumed Albert Pujols, who is also often cited as a great fielding first baseman would win the award.
According to UZR though, the voters got this one right. Gonzalez led all N.L. first basemen with a 3.8 UZR, just edging out Derrek Lee (3.7). Pujols ranked fourth with a UZR of 1.3. The thing is, fielding statistics are not entirely precise, so I am not sure we should make much out of the difference between Gonzalez and Pujols in the stat.
According the fan’s scouting report, Pujols actually bests Gonzalez. But not by much. Pujols scored an average grade of 3.96, while Gonzalez had an average grade of 3.91. Derek Lee was at 3.69. Even if you are not too familiar with the distribution of scores in the fan’s scouting report, it is pretty clear that little separated Pujols and Gonzalez.
All in all, I’d say this one was a toss-up. Neither Gonzalez nor Pujols (nor Lee if you prefer) distinguished themselves as significantly better fielders than the other this season. Because the voters did not ignore a greatly more deserving candidate (as would have been the case had Kouzmanoff earned a gold glove at the expense of Zimmerman), I am happy to see Gonzalez, a Padre, be recognized with a post-season award.