Yesterday evening, I received a text message from a friend. It read, simply, "Beltre robbed."
My initial reaction was to quickly open the Web browser on my phone and look for the news on exactly what had happened. Had he been mugged? Held at gunpoint? Was he OK? Was his family OK? What was taken?
Alas, my friend wasn't referring to an actual robbery, at least in the sense of a crime being committed. As I found out in my search, he was actually referring to the Gold Glove Award. Specifically, the fact that Adrian Beltre didn't win it. I quickly disagreed with my friend.
For starters, the award itself has long been flawed in the process anyways, lending itself to guys like Michael Young and Derek Jeter winning the award. It's not that those guys weren't good players, it's that more often than not, an award that was originally intended to be on the basis of defensive merit is given to players that weren't necessarily the most valuable defensive asset at their position.
In this year's case, I'm not sure I would have even put Beltre in the top 3 of the American League. Again, it's not that Beltre didn't have a fantastic season. He did. Kyle Seager, the winner of this year's award at 3B, was simply better on defense. The unfortunate part is that even Seager likely wasn't the most deserving.
As much as some Rangers fans may hate to hear it, Josh Donaldson of the Oakland A's was probably the best at the position in 2014. His DRS of 20 was tops in the American League. If you're more inclined to look at UZR/150, Donaldson still comes out on top. However, in the old-school style of thinking, his 23 errors were enough to disqualify him, apparently, in the eyes of voters. The fact that errors often come down to judgement calls based on a scorer's decision has yet to pull it out of the running for statistics we use is disappointing, at the very least. Then again, batting "average" is still used in many circles as the end-all number to measure offensive performance.
Despite Beltre's DRS of 9 (good for 3rd in the AL) and UZR/150 of 5.3 (good for 4th in the AL), Gerry Fraley had a piece up over at the DMN site titled "Rangers shut out of awards season: Why Adrian Beltre was snubbed for Gold Glove". The word "snubbed" on its own implies that, somehow, Beltre was wronged in the process. In other years, that case could certainly be made, but for some reason, the word was used here.
It very well might be that the title was meant to generate hits, which it certainly has succeeded if that's the case. Yet, if it was meant as something more serious, I think far too many are missing the point and getting a little to wrapped up in both Beltre's prior performance at the position as well as his still-consistent production at the plate.
Whatever the case may be, this season, Adrian Beltre, by any of the advanced metrics, wasn't the top defender at his position in 2014. And that's OK. With that said, it doesn't mean he was snubbed. In fact, I'd imagine the respect within the sport for Beltre's commitment to hard work and consistency has never been higher after he put together a solid campaign during a lost 2014 season.