There is a downside to more and better information.
I’m not complaining about more and better information. There’s a downside to everything. Except borrowed puppies. I haven’t found any downside to borrowed puppies.
But one downside to more and better information is that Gold Gloves aren’t the thrill they once were. Once upon a time, we had only a vague idea about the best fielders. So we actually waited to find out who won the Gold Gloves. Because who knew better than the managers and the coaches? Later, we started to think maybe we knew better. But we weren’t nearly sure, plus there was always the chance for something crazy to happen, like Derek Jeter winning multiple Gold Gloves or a first baseman winning a Gold Glove after playing exactly 28 games at first base.
There aren’t as many Gold Glove good times any more.
Beginning with consensus: of the nine Fielding Bible Award winners, six also won Gold Gloves: Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Starling Marte, Kevin Kiermaier, Jason Heyward and Dallas Keuchel. The other three Fielding Bible winners were Ian Kinsler, Andrelton Simmons and Buster Posey. Posey and Simmons were aced for Gold Gloves by Yadier Molina (again) and Brandon Crawford, and both winners finished second in Fielding Bible voting.
Which leaves Kinsler and what looks like the biggest anomaly in the Gold Glove voting. Because the American League Gold Glove went to Jose Altuve, who finished 14th in Fielding Bible (seventh in American League). There’s just no data-driven reason to believe Altuve was anything like the best second baseman in the American League, leading one to wonder about a halo effect. Or in Altuve’s case, maybe a double-halo, since he’s one of the better-hitting second baseman and he played for a playoff team.
A few Royals probably benefit from the same halos. Eric Hosmer won a Gold Glove, but didn’t have much competition in the American League. Alcides Escobar won a Gold Glove, but finished behind Francisco Lindor, Didi Gregorius and J.J. Hardy. Just among the American Leaguers. And then there’s Salvador Pérez, who enjoyed the benefits of playing for the Royals and incumbency, as he’d also won in 2013 and ’14. Come to think of it, same for Hosmer.
All the other Gold Glove choices are highly defensible, according to the numbers. Which probably shouldn’t be a surprise, since a) usually fielders with great numbers also look good, and b) 25 percent of the process is purely numbers. While the Gold Gloves might not all have been won by outstanding fielders, nearly all of them went to one of the best fielders in his league; those might sound like the same things, but aren’t always.