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.

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5 thoughts on “Moose is Golden

  1. Okay, maybe Mussina didn’t have such an outstanding season with the glove. However, Neyer fails to take into consideration that the standard for all these annual awards is relative to other players in the league. If Mussina was undeserving, it’s because someone else fielded their position more excellently. I haven’t looked at the numbers, and until we do, it seems silly to note “there was nothing about his performance . . . that screamed, ‘Gold Glove!'” Btw, Neyer is usually quite masterful at analyzing the stats in an appropriate context so that sentence kind of surprised me.

  2. Kenny Rogers was pretty much the best but Moose winning isn’t an outrage as he is very good. There’s a lot worse things to pick on in the GG this year than Mussina winning one (like Pujols not winning or the logic defying Michael Young pick).

  3. Good point Joy. It is incredible hard to analyze a Pitcher’s fielding in just one season becasue the sample size is so small.

    According to http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL_2008_field.shtml#P:

    It’s very tough but Javier Vazquez had as good a season with 17P, 29A, no errors and a 1.99RF. The Robot Roy Halliday is also programmed to scoop ground balls to the tune of 33 and 26 with just 1 error (though we know he pitched many more innings). Even old Kenny Rogers showed he’s still a vaccum on the mound with 26P and a whopping 50 assists. Did the one error he make really make him that much worse then Moose?

    Strictly looking at the numbers the only pitcher who really might make a statisically difference in his teams’s performance is Rogers. The guy has a 3.94 range factor, that’s triple Mussina’s!

  4. Exactly. Really, what Neyer could have said–and I would have–is that no pitcher’s performance ever screams Gold Glove. Most of the balls hit to the pitchers are soft grounders. They’re not covering hundreds of feet, diving around, making long throws to nail runners. Sometimes they cover first base, which requires them to run, what 60 feet AND catch an underhanded toss from a first baseman. I don’t really think there’s a discernable difference between any two pitchers in the league.

  5. Moose is known for his quick reactions on the mound. This season, as he does often, he made some amazing plays from the mound. Maybe they give him this award knowing he’s not going to get the Cy Young but deserves something. Who knows? But he’s one of the greatest fielding pitchers, IMHO.

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