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Saving the Gold Gloves

11/12/2009

A lovely person at Rawlings did return my phone call, and provided the following rules and guidelines that dictate the Gold Glove voting process:

1. Only manager and six coaches on major league team vote and sign ballot.

2. Manager and coaches cannot vote for their own players.

3. Managers and coaches can only vote for players in their own league.

4. The Rawlings Gold Glove Award represents fielding excellence over the grueling 162 game schedule. It is not a fielding statistical award.

Not much explanation necessary, except I think it's worth noting Instruction No. 4, which is pretty obviously intended to discourage voters from simply choosing the fielder with the highest fielding percentage (a suggestion that the voters routinely ignore -- can you say Adam Wainwright? -- but let's not trod that old ground again).

Also, while it doesn't appear in these rules, the nice person at Rawlings tells me that yes, as Rany Jazayerli suggested earlier, each voter is asked to vote for just nine players; that is, no second- or third-place choices.

As you probably saw, earlier today I suggested that the Baseball Writers Association of America do its best to put the Gold Gloves out of business. I still think that's a fine idea, but here's another (via a commenter): Rawlings should take steps to legitimize its own award. The problem isn't that nobody trusts Rawlings; most fans probably don't know that Rawlings has anything to do with the Gold Gloves. The problem is that fans don't trust the process, because 1) they don't really know what the process is, and 2) the results every year look so screwy.

Both of those problems are easily addressed, though. Transferring the voting from the managers and coaches to the writers would bring the Gold Gloves in line with the other "major" awards, and I can almost guarantee that the results would hew at least a bit close to the reality on the ground. I mean, Rany's right: While we can all enjoy ripping the BBWAA's choices over the years, there's no way that any decent sort of system involving the BBWAA would have given us "Rafael Palmeiro, Gold Glove winner" in 1999, even without a reasonable playing-time requirement (which should by now exist but apparently does not).

Rawlings, you've lost us. You've lost every reality-based analyst and fan in Baseball Land who takes even a passing interest in identifying the sport's outstanding defensive players. But you can get us back if you like. All you have to do is take the Gold Gloves away from the managers and the coaches.

And please don't worry about offending the managers and the coaches. You must know that the managers and the coaches couldn't care less. They've been proving that for decades.