Monday, October 27, 2014

Plouffe's Defense Worth Its Weight In Gold

Near the end of last week, the Rawlings Gold Glove finalists were announced for both the American League and the National League. It's hard to take these nominations too seriously when Derek Jeter has multiple Gold Gloves on his mantle and Rafael Palmeiro won one as a DH. Rawlings has been moving in the right direction as they have started to use SABR's Defensive Index to help decide the winners. 

Three former members of the Twins organization (JJ Hardy, Justin Morneau, and Denard Span) were all names as finalists while no members of the current team were among those selected. That's where some of the debate can be made since Trevor Plouffe seems to have compiled the numbers to at least be considered for a nomination.

There are two third baseman in the American League that are head and shoulders above the competition. The A's Josh Donaldson and the Mariner's Kyle Seager. These two men will battle for the honor but it's the third nomination spot that should be in question.

Adrian Beltre got the nod but he had a very sub-par year when it came to defensive numbers. According to SABR's Defensive Index, Beltre ranked sixth in the American League at the hot corner. This put him behind the two men mentioned above and the trio of Manny Machado, Trevor Plouffe, and Mike Moustakas.

This isn't the only metric that shows Plouffe's superiority to Beltre throughout the season.

According to FanGraphs version of defensive WAR, Plouffe's 8.6 mark far outpaced Beltre's 6.0 ranking. Both forms of ultimate zone rating also had Plouffe ranked higher than Beltre. Plouffe's 6.7 UZR was superior to Beltre's 4.0 mark and Plouffe was 2.4 runs higher in UZR/150 games.

Plouffe also ranked better than Beltre when it comes to range runs above average. Plouffe had ranked negatively in this category over the last two seasons but he posted a 5.4 RngR in 2014. Beltre was limited to a 2.8 RngR.

Revised zone rating is the proportion of balls hit into a fielders zone that he successfully converted into an out. Plouffe turned 73.6% of those balls into outs. When it comes to RZR, Beltre was below 70% for the first time since 2007. He has a .725 RZR mark for the duration of his career.

Beltre already has four Gold Gloves with his last award coming back in 2012. He was also awarded the AL Platinum Glove in 2011 and 2012 for having the best defensive in the entire American League. His defensive reputation and previous awards probably put him ahead of Plouffe on the nomination list.

Was there any chance of Plouffe walking away with AL Gold Glove at third?

No, but it would have been nice to see him being honored for his outstanding defensive play at a very tough fielding position. This award should go to Donaldson or Seager but Plouffe proved himself to be one of the top three defensive third baseman in the American League.

Plouffe was most certainly worth his weight in gold this season even if the nomination didn't follow the outstanding play.

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