Yesterday, Mike Mussina won his 7th gold glove and his first since 2003. Here’s ESPN’s Rob Neyer’s take on the issue:
“In 2003, Mike Mussina won his sixth Gold Glove. He also won 17 games that season. Since then, he hadn’t won more than 15 games in a season or any Gold Gloves. Until 2008, when he won 20 games and his seventh Gold Glove. Coincidence? You decide. My Fielding Bible vote went to Kenny Rogers, who did win a real Gold Glove in 2006. Mussina was good this season. He’s always good. But there was nothing about his performance (and there hasn’t been since 2003) that screamed, “Gold Glove!”
You know what? Neyer’s right. Look, I think Gold Gloves are a fun, quirky award that are rarely based in objective reality. Derek Jeter’s won three of them. Say what you want about the jump-turn-throw thing. Day in, day out, he’s not a great fielder, and probably borderline good.
But, to illustrate Neyer’s point:
Mussina 2007: 12 PO, 24 A, 0 E, 4 DP, 1.000 Fielding Percentage, 1.29 Range Factor
Mussina 2008: 18 PO, 23 A, 1 E, 4 DP, .955 Fielding Percentage, 1.21 Range Factor
So why didn’t Mussina win it last season too? If anything, he was BETTER last season. He got to more balls, didn’t make an error, and while he had slightly fewer chances, it was only a difference of five. Yeah, yeah, I know, there’s the art of holding runners on, and the thing Mussina does where he ducks down is pretty awesome, but really?
The difference is, last season Mussina pitched poorly, and this year, he was very good. Look, as worthless as Gold Gloves are, thery’re even more worthless for pitchers. You’re telling me that based on Mussina’s 42 chances this year, these voters knew that he was so much better than all the other pitchers in the league? Not a chance.
So now the question becomes, what does this mean for Mussina’s Hall chances? The answer again: Very little. Here’s a list of pitchers with 7 or more Gold Gloves:
Mark Langston, Bobby Shantz, Bob Gibson, Jim Kaat, Greg Maddux
Only Gibson and Maddux are in the Hall, and it’s not because of their fielding ability. Kaat has 16 of them. So while this will make his baseball-reference.com page more impressive, it’s going to do nothing for his Hall chances. As Kaat proves, it’s not even enough to push borderline guys over the top, so Mussina should be no different.
Of much more relevance and importance is the 2008 AL Cy Young Award to be handed out November 13th. We’ll have more on that very soon.