On Wednesday Major League Baseball announced the National League Gold Glove winners. Included on the list were Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Both players won the award for the first time, although Tulowitzki should already have two others to go along with this one. The shortstop led the National League in chances, fielding percentage and double plays, despite missing 33 games with a broken wrist. It is quickly becoming apparent that Tulowitzki is in the elite class of Major League shortstops.
Gonzalez won the award despite not having a home at one particular position in the outfield. He played 63 games in left field, 58 games in center field, and 40 games in right.
While the Rockies finally took home some postseason hardware, it does not come without controversy. According to the SABR statistic UZR (ultimate zone rating), Gonzalez supposedly was just slightly better than average in left field. Because of this, ESPN's Rob Neyer said on Twitter that Gonzalez's award comes not because of good play in the outfield, but because of his good season at the plate.
SABR statistics are a great new tool to evaluate baseball players. Instead of just grading a hitter off of batting average, these new methods factor in fly balls and ground balls and how well the player did when he got the ball into play. They also represent the first set of statistics to measure a players defensive abilities.
The problem, however, is that those from the SABR crowd have begun to rely on their nifty statistics for everything. Instead of watching a player play the game, they simply plug numbers into a computer and judge their abilities from there.
UZR is a valuable resource, but the fact is, sometimes it doesn't tell the whole story. For instance, according to UZR, Clint Barmes is a below average 2nd baseman, and Seth Smith is a far better left fielder than Carlos Gonzalez. Anyone who actually thinks that is true has never watched the Rockies play.
Regardless, history will show that both Tulowitzki and Gonzalez were golden in the field for the Rockies in 2010, and for once, history will have properly represented the Colorado Rockies.
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