On Golden Glove
Let's start with the winner, Eric Chavez. Chavez did have another outstanding defensive season, especially considering he played with a painfully injured shoulder for much of the year. In only 134 games he recorded 105 put outs, 281 assists, and participated in an astounding 43 double plays. He committed only five errors. Overall his Rate was 112, which means he saved about 12 more runs than an average third baseman over a 100 game span. The numbers are excellent. A decade of excellence at the position is worth some benefit of the doubt from voters. But the question is, was he so much better than everyone else that he deserved to win playing in 15 to 20 fewer games than his competition?
The answer is no because several players, including Crede, played just as well as Chavez. Let's start with Mike Lowell. Lowell played 19 more games at third than Chavez, posted 38 more put outs and 33 more assists. He also committed only one more error in all that time. He did wrack up four fewer double plays, but that's a testament to the remarkable total that Chavez collected in his limited playing time. All told, Lowell's Rate was the same as Chavez, which means he saved 2 or 3 more runs this year than Chavez because of the increased playing time.
Brandon Inge had an even higher rate than Chavez and Lowell, but no one mentioned him as a Gold Glove candidate. Inge did commit a fairly hefty number of errors -- 22 to be exact -- but he offset that by getting to a remarkable number of balls. In a whopping 159 games at the hot corner, Inge recorded 135 put outs and an amazing 398 assists. That's 74 more assists than Lowell and 118 more assists than Chavez. He also contributed to 34 double plays. His overall Rate was 113, which combines with his extra playing time to save his team three to five more runs than Lowell or Chavez.
This brings us to Joe Crede. I love Joe Crede. Hawk's man crush on Joe has always amused me, but Joe was the man at the hot corner this year. In 149 games he committed only 10 errors. It's not Chavez or Lowell-like consistency, but he's also far less risky than Inge. Meanwhile, he collected 115 put outs, 339 assists and contributed to 34 double plays. It's not Inge's range, but it's slightly better than Chavez and Lowell. His Rate was 115. Factor in Crede's own injury issues, which cost him a few games, or at least gave Ozzie reason to rest him occasionally, and you have an extra run saved over Inge, 4 runs or so over Lowell, and 6 runs or so over Chavez.
Our eyes deceive us when it comes to defense. Is a spectacular play a great play, or a play that would have been easy for a guy with better range? A ball ticks off a guy's glove for an error, while a lesser fielder never gets to the ball, which is scored a hit. These four guys all had good years in their own ways. Crede probably had the best year of the bunch, but not by more than a hair. Did Chavez deserve the award? Probably not. Did Crede? I think so. But I'm having trouble mustering Ozzie's level of concern over the whole thing.