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Today and tomorrow, the much-maligned Gold Glove awards are due to be announced. As you may have gathered from my article on Jeter earlier today, I’ve finished running the new Fielding Runs Above Average for 2010. What light can they shed on who the best fielders of the season were?

I introduced the metric here and here, but a quick referesher: the main goal in constructing the metric was to avoid biases that we see in other fielding metrics. A single season’s worth of numbers are not especially reliable, especially compared to offensive statistics. So take everything that follows with a rather large grain of salt.

(A note to those accustomed to the scale from other fielding metrics – the spread you see here is going to be much, much larger. Some of that is noise, but some of that is due to other metrics underreporting the spread of fielding performance, as I showed with Jeter.)

First Base:

Name

CH

PM

AVG_PM

PAA

MOE_PM

RAA

MOE_RUN

Mark Teixeira

3656

210

183

27

13

22

10

Albert Pujols

3926

223

201

22

13

17

10

Adam LaRoche

3510

191

175

16

13

13

10

Mike Napoli

1685

98

85

13

9

11

7

Pedro Feliz

264

18

11

7

3

6

2

Russell Branyan

1299

85

78

7

8

5

6

Victor Martinez

326

24

18

6

4

5

3

Yonder Alonso

87

8

3

5

2

4

1

Steve Pearce

205

12

7

5

2

4

2

Garrett Jones

2815

119

114

5

10

4

8

This list doesn’t seem to offer a lot of surprises. Mark Teixeira and Albert Pujols both have reputations as outstanding defensive players at first base. What’s interesting to me is that you have a handful of standouts, and then a big clump of players barely above average (which is how someone like Yonder Alonso can sneak in there).

Second Base:

Name

CH

PM

AVG_PM

PAA

MOE_PM

RAA

MOE_RUN

Jeff Keppinger

3064

296

265

31

15

24

12

Cristian Guzman

1609

164

137

27

11

21

9

Brandon Phillips

3662

335

312

23

17

18

14

Ian Kinsler

2596

234

213

21

14

17

11

Orlando Hudson

3255

312

291

21

16

17

13

Jonathan Herrera

1170

121

101

20

9

16

8

Eric Young

669

79

61

18

7

15

6

Luis Castillo

1637

148

131

17

11

13

9

Reid Brignac

1078

115

100

15

10

12

8

Mike Aviles

2323

228

214

14

14

11

11

Again, I don’t see any names here that give me major pause. And given the MOEs involved, you could sort this list in almost any order and be nearly as comfortable with it. There’s a lot of reasonable candidates for the best fielding second baseman this year.

Shortstop:

Name

CH

PM

AVG_PM

PAA

MOE_PM

RAA

MOE_RUN

Alexei Ramirez

4053

433

374

59

18

48

15

Alex Gonzalez

3757

440

383

57

18

45

14

Cliff Pennington

3745

421

376

45

18

36

14

Josh Wilson

2486

267

222

45

15

36

12

Brendan Ryan

3180

365

338

27

17

21

13

Jack Wilson

1577

170

147

23

12

18

9

Ramon Santiago

1847

190

168

22

12

17

10

Yuniesky Betancourt

4086

376

355

21

18

17

15

Elvis Andrus

3717

355

335

20

18

16

14

Jamey Carroll

1504

168

149

19

12

15

9

Well, I see at least one name here that jumps out at me. Yuniesky Betancourt is a guy who nFRAA has been very, very down on the past several years – he and Jeter have had a running contest for “worst fielding shortstop and baseball” for a while now.  So I don’t know if he’s turned a corner, or if he just had a fluke season, or if he just ended up with a lot of easy chances this year.

And the rest of the list is pretty odd as well – this would easily be the best year of Alexei Ramirez’s career with the glove, by a long shot, for instance. There’s a lot of uncertainty here.

Third base:

Name

CH

PM

AVG_PM

PAA

MOE_PM

RAA

MOE_RUN

Jose Lopez

3733

303

254

49

15

39

12

Adrian Beltre

3838

287

253

34

15

27

12

Scott Rolen

3050

238

208

30

14

24

11

Nick Punto

1027

91

76

15

8

12

7

Alberto Gonzalez

476

43

32

11

5

9

4

Brandon Inge

3638

250

239

11

15

9

12

Pedro Alvarez

2475

189

179

10

13

8

10

Ramiro Pena

735

63

53

10

7

8

6

Placido Polanco

2940

231

221

10

14

8

11

Alex Rodriguez

2988

213

204

9

13

7

11

These are, again, quite a few of the names you’d expect. And you see something like first base, where there’s a handful of players in the top clump, and a lot of separation between them and everyone else.

Left field:

Name

CH

PM

AVG_PM

PAA

MOE_PM

RAA

MOE_RUN

Carl Crawford

3580

306

265

41

16

33

13

Scott Podsednik

3157

264

227

37

15

30

12

Gerardo Parra

1599

144

115

29

10

23

8

Aubrey Huff

686

72

46

26

7

21

5

Brett Gardner

2546

200

176

24

13

19

10

Jose Tabata

2343

191

170

21

12

17

10

Seth Smith

1383

104

84

20

9

16

8

Andres Torres

402

47

27

20

5

16

4

Felix Pie

1736

147

127

20

11

16

9

Michael Saunders

1997

165

145

20

11

16

9

Carl Crawford? It couldn’t be!

On a larger note – that’s a real tight spread, pretty much top to bottom.

Center field:

Name

CH

PM

AVG_PM

PAA

MOE_PM

RAA

MOE_RUN

Denard Span

4072

405

367

38

19

30

15

Angel Pagan

2196

250

214

36

14

29

11

Adam Jones

3981

422

387

35

19

28

15

Shane Victorino

3472

355

322

33

18

27

14

B.J. Upton

3702

396

364

32

18

26

15

Marlon Byrd

3571

371

339

32

18

25

14

Michael Bourn

3346

359

329

30

17

24

14

Chris Young

3819

404

374

30

19

24

15

Cameron Maybin

1816

211

185

26

13

21

10

Nyjer Morgan

3267

335

311

24

17

19

14

Andres Torres just missed, for those wondering.

And yes, that’s another really tight spread of plays made in the outfield.

Right field:

Name

CH

PM

AVG_PM

PAA

MOE_PM

RAA

MOE_RUN

Jay Bruce

3373

333

265

68

16

54

12

Nelson Cruz

2313

228

182

46

13

37

10

Nick Swisher

3131

265

227

38

15

31

12

Ryan Ludwick

2833

245

209

36

14

29

11

Hunter Pence

3877

336

302

34

17

27

13

Michael Stanton

2402

211

184

27

13

21

10

Ben Zobrist

2110

182

161

21

12

17

10

Jason Heyward

3189

233

214

19

15

15

12

J.D. Drew

3150

233

216

17

15

14

12

Matt Joyce

1152

99

82

17

9

14

7

So, uh… how about Jay Bruce? He’s been very impressive in right field over the past two partial seasons as well, but still, that’s an absolutely mind-blowing number. Even regressed, that’s a heck of a season from a right fielder.

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dianagramr
11/09
and Jeter does in fact get another Gold Glove ... (the voters are sheep) :-(
Ophidian
11/09
Hmm... I'd be curious where Franklin Gutierrez ranks in your CF list
newsense
11/09
Something's wrong in the calculations. they generally show a smaller MOE for fielders who had fewer chances (Aubrey Huff, for example). What gives?
cwyers
11/09
It's the MOE of expected plays made, essentially. For fielders with fewer chances, they have fewer expected plays and so the MOE is less.
garethbluejays2
11/09
Derek Jeter has won 5 gold gloves. Are there any comparisons at all for this?(other than DH's winning them whilst barely playing the field)?
dianagramr
11/09
Only in the area of politics ...
Tdiggity5
11/09
Anyone who has paid attention to Alexei Ramirez is really not surprised. His first year he was out of position (2nd base) and last year his second half defense was top notch. This year was just a natural progression. He has tremendous range.
ofMontreal
11/10
Why is Keppinger listed at 2nd base? He has 600 less chances than Phillips, who definitely did not play other positions. Kep should be listed at short if a catch-all is needed.
ofMontreal
11/10
I should also say: Good job Colin, these are very interesting. I can't believe the Jose Lopez numbers at 3rd!
baserip4
11/10
Aside from Aubrey Huff's shocking appearance on the LF leaderboard (are we all sure this is the same guy who spent the past three years in Baltimore? 100%?), I think the major sins seem to be ones of omission. Mark Ellis and Ryan Zimmerman stand out, off the top of my head.
rcrary
11/10
Chase Utley seems the most glaring missing player to me.
TheRedsMan
11/10
Bruce was an absolute beast out there. Consider that he was a plus CF in the minors and got moved to RF primarily because Jr was still around when he first came up and then because it was easier to find a CF glove than a RF bat in FA.
mattidell
11/10
This is obviously biased against the Padres (Gonzalez, Headley, Gwynn, Eckstein...). No?
tbsmkdn
11/10
Mike Napoli ... good defender ... nobody tell Scioscia!
Mooser
11/10
Does this include runs saved from arms (OF) or DPs in the infield.
mikehollman
11/10
Under 2B, you write: "Again, I don’t see any names here that give me major pause." By most accounts I've read, Luis Castillo has regressed to well below average in the field and Eric Young is not long for the position. Just curious if you've heard different, because these numbers did give me pause.
ericmvan
11/10
What we need is the sortable report covering everybody, back to the beginning of time. And the report giving team totals, too. The argument that UZR and Plus/Minus underrate the spread of performance due to range bias is really interesting. Having the data for everyone and for teams would give us terrific tools for testing that. The obvious question: if you back team nFRAA and team UZR out of pitching totals, which makes more sense of the pitching numbers that are left behind (especially BABIP)?
aronf77
11/10
It would be nice to see a comparison to other fielding metrics. I'd be a lot more confident in a surprising result that was consistent with UZR as I would in one that was not. (The converse is also true).
BananaHammock
11/11
How can the A's have such a great team defensive efficiency if they one have a single player on the any positional list?
lucasjthompson
11/12
Denard Span at #1. Could this be a product of playing between plodding and generally not good defensive corner outfielders in Minnesota this year? Bad corner guys is going to give him more chances per batted ball, no?
gmolyneux
11/12
Colin: Can you give us Zimmerman's rating at 3B?
bozarowski
11/15
I agree with this - stunned to see supposed butchers Alvarez and Rodriguez here but no Zimmerman.
dianagramr
11/12
Where is Drew Stubbs?
Tom9418
11/16
Is RAA a rate stat? I tried to look back on the articles and didn't see it. I assume it isn't and looks like some of these guys (Feliz at 1B) would have put up awesome results in more opportunities. More importantly, shouldn't we be normalizing differences in playing time?