On Tuesday night, Major League Baseball unveiled the 2011 Gold Glove winners in both the National and American Leagues. By this point most of us feel like it's something of a superfluous award, because it's based just as much (if not moreso) on reputation than it actually is defensive prowess. And we won't talk about having three finalists for each position.
Anyway, what was kind of nice to see was that Yadier Molina was the only player who won who now has more than three Gold Gloves (he won his fourth). There were nine first-time winners, including Jacoby Ellsbury in center field for the AL. Which is fine with me, because he's actually a very good defensive center fielder. He saved the Red Sox runs with his range, with his 14.7 range runs above average marking the highest of hits career, as was his 15.6 UZR rating. All of this in spite of not having the best arm.
That sounds just a little bit like Ben Revere, doesn't it? Astounding range thanks in some part to supersonic speed, but not the most impressive arm. Well, if that tool set can win Ellsbury a Gold Glove, how about Revere?
Here's the tale of the tape from 2011.
A bit more after the jump.
Quick reference glossary
UZR/150 - Runs above average per 150 defensive games
RngR - Range runs, or runs saved above average due to range
RZR - Revised zone rating; outs converted on all balls considered to be in the defender's zone
OOZ - Out of zone plays; outs converted on balls considered to be outside of the defender's zone
Arm - Outfield arm runs above average (or below, in our two cases)
UZR/150 - Among American League center fielders with more than 500 innings logged at that position, Ellsbury was third and Revere was fourth in the category. (Denard Span was second.)
RngR - Ellsbury, Revere and Span are first, second and third in range runs, respectively.
RZR - Ellsbury ranked fourth and Revere fifth, again. (Span ranked first, this time.)
OOZ - Ellsbury made the third most plays outside the zone of a center fielder this season, but Revere came in sixth in spite of being the only player in the top ten to play fewer than 1134 innings.
It's that last category which really stands out as far as I'm concerned. Not just because Revere's accomplishments in his relative timeframe are impressive, but because those out of zone plays are often the ones that make highlight reels (unless you're Torii Hunter and making highlight reel catches inside your own defensive zone). And when you make highlight reel catches, you get put on ESPN, and that's where players make their defensive reputations with the general public.
Would Revere have won the Gold Glove for AL center fielders had he played an entire season? Not necessarily, but potentially. He certainly would have deserved to been a part of the conversation. But it's also important to note that he didn't play a full season at the MLB level, and it's possible that at some point he may have worn down a little bit. With Ellsbury there was no breakdown, as he logged more innings than any other AL center fielder this season.
In Revere, we already knew we had a rangey, no-arm defender. The purpose of this exercise was to point out exactly how elite his range is. Because hey, right now any positive spin we can put on 2012 is great.
Speaking of which, having another great range defender like Span in the outfield will be a gift for our pitchers next season. With Revere in left and Denard in center, our flyball pitchers will be protected more than they have been the last few seasons.