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Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Making the Gold Glove case for Elvis Andrus

By Richard Durrett

Well, I'm surprised that neither outfielder Josh Hamilton nor Elvis Andrus claimed their first Gold Glove Awards on Tuesday.

Derek Jeter won at shortstop for the AL and Ichiro Suzuki, Carl Crawford and Franklin Gutierrez won in the OF.

I really believed Andrus had a great chance to win the award at shortstop. He has the best range of anyone in the AL at the position and after committing 22 errors in his rookie season of 2009, dropped to 16 in 2010. As I've said before, I believe Andrus commits more errors than many others because he gets to more balls than others do, giving him more chances to bobble a ball or make an errant throw.

Maybe next year, the coaches and managers who vote on the awards will take more notice of Andrus' exploits. That's not, by the way, to say I don't think Hamilton was deserving. But Hamilton missed most of the final month with an injury, and I think you can make a stronger case for the three outfielders chosen than you can for Jeter. But that's just me.

Yes, I know Jeter had 10 fewer errors. But we've talked about why I think Andrus' error total is inflated. Andrus had a much higher zone total runs above fielding number (2 to Jeter's minus-10). That's the number of runs above average the player was worth based on the number of plays made. He had the higher range factor per nine innings, the higher range factor per game. He was well higher (1 to minus-13) on defensive runs saved above the average. Andrus also had the third-most putouts of any shortstop in the AL with 242 (in 148 games). Jeter had 182 (in 151 games). Andrus also had over 100 more chances.

As for UZR (ultimate zone rating), which encompasses some of the numbers above, he was above average (barely) among AL shortstops. But Jeter was considerably below average. Alexei Ramirez was No. 1 in that category.

I know those are obscure stats to some, but the entire body of work shows he was a solid fielder at his position. And, in my mind, better than Jeter. Maybe he'll be justly rewarded next year.