Thursday, October 23, 2014

Brantley Named Finalist For Rawlings' 2014 AL LF Gold Glove Award

finally, this is the career first i've been waiting for! today, on October 23, Rawlings Sports named Michael Brantley as one of three finalists for the 2014 American League Gold Glove Award for left fielders. he's up against Kansas City's Alex Gordon and Boston's Yoenis Cespedes. Michael's teammate, Yan Gomes, was also a finalist for this year's AL catcher's award. no Indian has won a Gold Glove since 2008, when Grady Sizemore won the AL CF Gold Glove.

June 4 vs. Boston Red Sox
September 7 vs. Chicago White Sox
September 8 @ Houston Astros (photos courtesy of The Plain Dealer)

the Gold Glove is given to players annually based on their fielding performances. managers and coaches of each league are the voters for this award. however, managers cannot vote for their own players. after reading more about the Gold Glove, i found an additional factor that weighs into the final decision--sabermetrics, my favorite. the Society for American Baseball Research supplies a sabermetric statistic which counts for 25% of the vote.

this season, Michael played both left and center field. he finished with a career high 12 outfield assists, 2 double plays, 1 error, 271 putouts, and .996 fielding percentage in 1304.1 total innings as an outfielder. his 12 OF assists were tied for 4th most among American League outfielders. Cespedes had the most with 16. additionally, Michael played a franchise record 247 consecutive games in the outfield without an error, a streak that ended on April 2, 2014. that error occurred while Michael was in center field, i might add. so if we spotlight just his left field numbers, he's got 10 outfield assists, 2 double plays, 0 errors, 165 putouts, and a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 931.1 innings.

let's also not hide the fact that a player's offensive skills play a part in these awards as well. Michael's .327 batting average was the 3rd highest BA in the major leagues and 1st among major league outfielders when all was said and done. plus, he was the only player in the majors with a minimum of 40 doubles, 20 home runs, 90 RBI, 90 runs, 20 stolen bases, and a .300 BA.

how about we compare some numbers of all 3 finalists:
Brantley: .327 BA/200 H/20 HR/97 RBI/45 2B/94 R/23 SB/52 BB/56 SO in 156 games
Gordon: .266 BA/150 H/19 HR/74 RBI/34 2B/87 R/12 SB/65 BB/126 SO in 156 games
Cespedes: .260 BA/156 H/22 HR/100 RBI/36 2B/89 R/7 SB/35 BB/128 SO in 152 games

now here are the finalists' fielding #s in LEFT FIELD only:
Brantley: 10 assists/0 errors/2 double plays/1.000 fielding % in 931.1 innings and 107 games
Gordon: 8 assists/2 errors/0 double plays/.994 fielding % in 1372.2 innings and 156 games
Cespedes: 16 assists/5 errors/0 double plays/.979 fielding % in 1090.2 innings and 125 games

going off those numbers alone, Michael should win this in a landslide. sadly, with the way the Gold Glove is awarded to outfielders now, those 373 innings that Michael played in center this season probably take him out of the running. (which makes it mind-boggling that Michael wasn't a finalist last year when he not only played all but 4 innings in left field, but also had 11 assists, 1 double play, and 0 errors all season.) and who's to blame for that? Michael Bourn. this guy has been screwing Michael over ever since we got him. Michael's way too much of a nice guy and a professional (as he should be) to say anything bad about Bourn. and that's where i come in. i'm neither of those things so i'm going to attack his ass.

i have been anti-Bourn from the minute that signing was announced in February 2013. i knew it would push Michael into left field and take him out of his preferred place in center and of course i wasn't going to support that. Bourn has been a terrible leadoff man, and he's done absolutely nothing to make my rants and complaints about him look bad. instead i look like a Nostradamus. eff that guy. he's a contract nightmare and too injury prone for my taste. all those steals he was supposed to get disappeared once he started having all these new hamstring problems. ultimately his inability to stay healthy and play center will be a huge reason why Michael does not win this award. grrr.

then there are the sabermetrics out there that some fans think are the freakin' bible of baseball. i debated whether or not to include the UZR/150 (the number of plays made in a player's defensive zone per 150 games) in my blog because i once read that that fangraphs stat should be avoided whenever possible because it is very misleading. yet, i fear it will be a determinant of this year's Gold Glove winner, in which case Michael is f*cked. of 7 qualifying American League left fielders, Michael is last with a -10.1 rating. Gordon ranks first with a 22.6 rating and Cespedes is second with 14. i'm puzzled about how Michael's zone rating could be so bad because he's not a bad defender. is it his fault if hitters hit a lot of bloop singles into shallow left field that he just can't get to and/or opts to play off the bounce? that doesn't mean he's a defensive liability. sigh.

to know that these advanced stats continue to label Michael as a horrible outfielder regardless of what position he plays...i just can't with this again. there is no better OF on our team and he's now one of the best in baseball. anyone who still believes otherwise needs to watch Michael play every inning of every game in a season instead of basing their opinions solely on looking at specific numbers that don't even come close to telling his whole story. remember, if Michael wasn't in Cleveland, then the threat of Ryan Raburn spiking more balls in the left field corner would become a very real possibility. (i've never seen Corey Kluber display that kind of pissed off emotion in a game before, btw. but Michael's not good? smh)

another strong argument against Michael for the Gold Glove is the fact that Alex Gordon is the reigning champ (3 years running) and he had another great defensive season. plus, he's playing on a team that not only made it to the postseason, but is also currently in the World Series. but i'm gonna go the other way and say because of that, i feel like he shouldn't get the GG this year. Gordon could potentially be a World Series MVP candidate. let him have that and give my boy the Gold Glove lol

so congratulations to Michael on being a GG finalist! he's certainly earned it and it is a true honor just to be nominated. but it's not looking like he'll emerge as the winner based on the criteria. honestly, i'll be stunned if he does win. no matter what happens, i am just so happy that Michael is finally getting some much deserved Gold Glove consideration. no, that's not true. you know i'm gonna bitch if he doesn't win this lol

the winner of this award, and all other 2014 Gold Glove Awards, will be announced on Tuesday, November 4, at 7 pm EST on ESPN2. i will post a follow up blog to this after i find out who won. good luck, Michael!

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