Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Golden Threepeat

Luis Aparicio. Roy McMillan. Mark Belanger. Dave Concepcion. Ozzie Smith. Tony Fernandez. Barry Larkin. Omar Vizquel. Rey Ordonez. Derek Jeter.

Apologies for dredging up old news from last week, but Derek Jeter earned his third straight American League Gold Glove at shortstop--joining the other nine guys above as the only fellows to win three in a row in the 50-year history of the Gold Glove award. Let's put it another way: Jeter now has more gold gloves than Cal Ripken. Or Maury Wills. Or Alex Rodriguez.

For the first eight seasons of his career, most fielding statistics had Jeter as the one of, if not the, worst shortstops out there. The data--most of it, at least--says that over the last three seasons, Jeter has improved dramatically from his previous defensive level. That "dramatic improvement," was from horrible to average, perhaps a bit above. None of the metrics I've seen have actually placed Jeter as the best shortstop in the AL, or even in the top three, for the last three seasons.

Jeter, always a test case for the sabermetric point-of-view of defense, now takes things to the next level. All the other names in that first paragraph have legacies as elite defenders. When people look back at Jeter's defense, will they put Jeter on that same pedestal? Or will folks remember the ugly defensive early-career performance described by the stats? If it's the latter, will the gold gloves be at all relevant to future generations of baseball fans?

Those are not rhetorical questions. Feel free to speak up in the comments.

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In other news, the Yankees are reported to be mulling a repurchase of 40% of the Houston Astros' pitching rotation, for one last pinstriped hurrah. It's an enticing idea, but I thought collusion rules were initially put in place to prevent a couple of players from coordinating their actions in signing with a team (for those who don't know, the collusion rules were a reaction to a joint holdout by Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale some forty years ago).?

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Gary Sheffield gave the Yankees a list of places to which he'd rather be traded. Nice idea, Gary, better than "you trade for me and there will be trouble." But a bit irrelevant.

Let's put it this way. Lots of people I know make up these imaginary lists of "freebies"--that is, famous-type folks that their significant other would allow them to have a fling with if the opportunity were available. So, for example, the guy agrees that his wife could hook up with Brad Pitt if he came a-knockin' on the door, while the wife gives her husband the green light to get a little somethin'-somethin' from Jessica Alba, should they happen to be locked in an elevator together, or somesuch. The whole thing works because it's a ludicrous fantasy--presumably Salma Hayek doesn't go around the country looking up all the guys (and heck, probably at least some girls) that have put her on their lists. She doesn't care.

The Yanks shouldn't care about what's on Gary Sheffield's list. Gary would accept a trade to the White Sox? That's nice. You say the Royals are offering Alex Gordon? Get used to scenic Kaufman Stadium, Gary!

[By the way, lest I start getting hatemail from the Midwest Sabermetric Mafia, not serious about Gordon. I'd happily take Billy Butler in his stead. OK, ok, seriously, Andrew Sisco and Ambiorix Burgos would be plenty, for sure.]

1 comment:

Reb said...

Let's put it this way. Lots of people I know make up these imaginary lists of "freebies"--that is, famous-type folks that their significant other would allow them to have a fling with if the opportunity were available.

Oddly, my boyfriend and I both have Derek Jeter on our list of freebies...