Too many Gold Gloves, not enough MVPs?

November, 9, 2010
11/09/10
6:54
PM ET
A friend tweets : "It's absurd that Jeter won a Gold Glove, but no more absurd than his never having won an MVP."

No, it's not. It's not nearly as absurd.

Jeter's won five Gold Gloves, and hasn't deserved any of them. If you tilt everything toward him as much as you possibly can, you might be able to argue that once, just once, he was one of the four or five best candidates. Otherwise he's been one of the American League's worst Gold Glove candidates, every time he's actually won the thing.

Meanwhile, there's never been a year in which Jeter should obviously have won the MVP Award but didn't.

His best seasons -- and not coincidentally, the years in which he came closest to winning the award -- were 1998, 1999, 2006, and 2009, in which he finished third, sixth, second, and third in the balloting.

In 1998, Jeter finished behind Juan Gonzalez and Nomar Garciaparra. Gonzalez won because he drove in a lot of runs, and you can guess how I felt (and feel) about that. Jeter also finished behind Garciaparra, and it's really hard to argue that Jeter was measurably better than Garciaparra. Albert Belle and Alex Rodriguez, though finishing well behind in the balloting, played just as well as Jeter. Leaving aside the actual winner, all of those guys were worthy candidates.

In 1999, the voters probably blew it again, going for Ivan Rodriguez. Many of us thought Pedro Martinez got robbed, but there were other excellent candidates, especially Jeter, Roberto Alomar, and Manny Ramirez.

In 2006 ... well, in 2006 I think I actually supported Jeter's candidacy for the first time. For me, it was a choice between him and Joe Mauer ... so of course Justin Morneau won, as the voters once again declared their fealty to the All Powerful Run Batted In. Grady Sizemore was awesome that season, too.

In 2009, Jeter was awesome. But so were Kevin Youkilis and Ben Zobrist, and Mauer out-awesomed all of them. When a catcher leads the league in OPS and gets 27 of 28 first-place MVP votes, it's sorta hard to argue that the wrong guy won.

Looking backward, a lot of wrong guys have won. But never at the obvious expense of Jeter. He could have won two or three times, but it's not at all clear that he's deserved to win even once.

Giving Jeter five Gold Gloves is a significantly larger error than giving him zero MVP Awards. What balances the scale is the relative prestige of the awards. Most players would, I suspect, happily trade five Gold Gloves for one MVP. And it's certainly true that Jeter deserves that one MVP a lot more than the five Gold Gloves. Do you think he can work out a trade? Maybe in lieu of that fourth year on his next contract?

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