Mariners Insider Blog

Gold Gloves to enlist sabermetric component to determining awards

It's about time.

The Gold Gloves - which honor baseball's top defensive player  at each position - is finally moving into the modern era. On Friday, the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, which sponsors the Gold Glove awards, announced a collaboration with the Society for American Baseball Reserach to use a sabermetrics-based component to the Rawlings Gold Glove award selection process.

Had this been a year ago, Brendan Ryan, who was stastistically and by opinion the best defensive shortstop in all of baseball, would have the Gold Glove award at shortstop instead of J.J. Hardy.

From the press release ....

As part of the multi-year collaboration beginning with the 2013 season, SABR will develop an expanded statistical resource guide that will accompany the Rawlings Gold Glove Award ballots sent to managers and coaches each year. In addition, SABR will immediately establish a new Fielding Research Committee tasked to develop a proprietary new defensive analytic called the SABR Defensive Index™, or SDI™. The SDI will serve as an “apples-to-apples” metric to help determine the best defensive players in baseball exclusively for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award and Rawlings Platinum Glove Award selection processes. The collaboration also installs SABR as the presenting sponsor of the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award.

“The Rawlings Gold Glove Award is one of the most iconic awards in all of sports, and has continued to evolve throughout its storied history,” said Kurt Hunzeker, senior director of brand marketing for St. Louis-based Rawlings. “By marrying the ‘art of fielding’ with the ‘science of baseball,’ our new collaboration with SABR only cements the Rawlings Gold Glove Award and Rawlings Platinum Glove Award as the industry standards honoring defensive excellence at the highest level of baseball.”

Since its inception in 1957, the Rawlings Gold Glove Award voting process has included national sportswriters, a secret players-only ballot, and the current system where each manager and up to six (6) coaches on his staff vote from a pool of qualified players in their respective league, but not for players on their own team.

Beginning in 2013, the managers/coaches vote will constitute a majority of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners’ selection tally, with the new SDI comprising of the remainder of the overall total. The exact breakdown of the selection criteria will be announced once the SDI is created later this summer.

“SABR has a long history of being at the forefront of the sabermetrics movement,” said Vince Gennaro, president of SABR. “We are proud to bring our expertise to bear in the selection of future Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners, and to be a driving force behind the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award.” 

In 2011, Rawlings incorporated the following components into its Rawlings Gold Glove Award selection process: a new resource guide with advanced metrics and player eligibility parameters, the separation of the three outfield positions to accurately reward the best defenders at each specific outfield position, the announcement of finalists at each position, and the introduction of the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award to honor the best defender in each League among the Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners in each season.

The SDI’s ability to accurately compare players from different positions will help determine the updated Rawlings Platinum Glove Award presented by SABR. Fans will continue to have a voice during this process, once the newest class of Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners is announced in November.

St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina and Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre won their respective league’s Rawlings Platinum Glove Award in each of the past two seasons.