Yesterday, three finalists were named at each position for Gold Glove winners. As expected, Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur made the cut. Gordon finished with league highs at his position in fielding percentage (.991) and outfield assists (20). Francoeur ended the year with a .986 fielding percentage and 16 outfield assists.
However, the Royals best defensive player didn’t even make the top three at his position.
That player, of course, being Alcides Escobar.
It has long been said that offensive numbers often play a large role in an award that is given based solely on defense. This has been proven throughout the years and this is the best example for this year’s finalists.
The players chosen ahead of Escobar were Erick Aybar, JJ Hardy, and Asdrubal Cabrera. This is what their offensive numbers looked like:
Aybar: BA: .279 HR: 10 RBI: 59
Hardy: BA: .269 HR: 30 RBI: 80
Cabrera: BA: .273 HR: 25 RBI: 92
Now, let’s take a look at what type of offensive statistics the Royals shortstop put up:
Escobar: BA: .254 HR: 4 RBI: 46
I got to watch Escobar play in basically every game this year. Almost every single game, he made a play that seemed like it should have been physically impossible. His bat is not even close to the level that his glove and arm are on, but that shouldn’t matter when deciding on the Gold GLOVE.
If I had to pick a winner from this year’s finalists it would be Erick Aybar. He is the type of defensive player that can make plays similar to Escobar. He has the range and athleticism to be considered the top defensive shortstop in the American League.
I didn’t get to see a whole lot of JJ Hardy this year, but what I was able to see wasn’t as impressive as what Escobar did on a daily basis. His range was nowhere near to Escobar’s, but hitting 30 HR’s as a shortstop is a sure way to steal some votes.
As far as AsdrubAl Cabrera goes, he either made a spectacular play or made an error on a routine grounder. His range was good but his instincts weren’t even near where Escobar was.
It’s too bad that on a yearly basis, great defensive players are left completely out of the discussion of being named the best at their position. Defensive play gets overshadowed by being a big name with a bigger bat. While Alcides Escobar was saving games with his glove, these other players were saving games with their bats.
Maybe next year Escobar will get to 10 HR’s and a .270 average so he can be considered the best defensive shortstop in the American League.
Royals Tweet of the Week
This week’s Tweet of the Week comes from Tim Hawkins.
Simple, subtle, honest.
Follow Tim @tbhawkins and myself @tbryant824