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2010 American League Gold Glove: Things Look Bad For Brendan Ryan

Every so often, having had the privilege to look at advanced defensive metrics on a regularly updated basis for two years, now, you might think to yourself: Maybe the Gold Glove voters have finally decided to stop awarding them based on how well a player has hit over his career, or how quickly they recognize his name! But the results for the American League Gold Gloves are in, and Derek Jeter's name will be engraved on a fifth straight trophy. If that's what they give people for Gold Gloves—I've never been very interested.


There's plenty of reason to still be skeptical about defensive metrics. There's a lot of seasonal and long-term variance, some of them disagree with each other, and for a long time they were hard to find and collate. But one thing every last defensive metric has had in common since 1996 is that Derek Jeter is an awful defensive shortstop. Total Zone, over at a duly incredulous Baseball-Reference, has him -10 runs this year and -131—that's negative 13.6 wins—over his 16 year career. This is like awarding Dan Uggla a Gold Glove. 


The work can be done without defensive metrics, if you're a skeptic. Derek Jeter didn't win a Gold Glove his first eight seasons in the league, and nobody seemed especially eager to give him one. He didn't win the Gold Glove until he was Derek Jeter, Keeper Of The Yankee Mystique. He's 36 now. Defensive skill peaks early, and this year he clearly lost a step at the plate. So is his defense getting better? Did his defense suddenly leapfrog his offense?


Answer: His defense is not getting better. The managers and coaches of the American League either cannot evaluate defense, and should all be fired, or can't be trusted to evaluate defense, and should just be derided.