From the Editor's Vault...: October 10, 2007
Introducing the 2007 Baseball Library Silk Glove Team
<Okay, maybe we're biased, but we think our Silk Glove Team more accurately identifies the top fielders at each position in both leagues than the Rawlings Gold Glove squad. Why? Because the selections for our unit are entirely subjective. No one voted for a player because of his bat or his reputation (so those 10 Gold Gloves sitting on your mantle at home don't impress us). In fact, no one voted period. Instead, we formulated a "secret recipe" composed of advanced defensive metrics--including Range Factor, Defensive Runs, Zone Rating and Catcher's ERA--and the work of respected analysts such as Bill James, John Dewan and the geniuses at Baseball Prospectus to find out who were the most valuable fielders in baseball during the 2007 season. Then we "normalized" many of the ratings to reflect the impact pitching staffs could exert on fielding metrics.
For example, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies finished the season with a 5.39 Range Factor. That figure that was 43 points higher than Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, who finished second in that category. (The three worst shortstops in RF were J.J. Hardy (4.00), Derek Jeter (4.02) and Jose Reyes (4.07). Good thing they can hit). However, Tulowitzki plays behind an extreme groundball pitching staff that posted a below average strikeout-to-innings pitched ratio last season. Those pitchers gave Tulowitzki and his colleagues in the Colorado infield more groundball fielding opportunities per nine innings than any other infield unit in the majors. When we factored in that element, Tulowitzki and Furcal were virtually tied in Range Factor and many of the other defensive metrics (and you'll discover who ultimately came out on top in a moment). Conversely, Jose Reyes's Range Factor rose by nearly 50 points for a final figure that was slightly better than average, although not good enough to challenge the leaders.
We also decided to set a higher qualifying bar than the Gold Glove gang. You won't find any Rafael Palmeiros playing 28 games at first base and earning a spot on our club. To qualify for consideration, you must play at least 900 innings at your position (150 innings for pitchers).
When you review the list of honorees, you'll notice that we named only one centerfielder per team, another departure from the Gold Glove. Honestly, the Gold Glove practice of allowing voters to pick teams without corner outfielders never made sense to us. Each outfield position carries distinct responsibilities and our awards reflect that. Naming three centerfielders to one of our teams would be like manning the infield with four shortstops.
We think you'll be surprised at some of the names you'll find here, but we have the numbers to back each pick. So if you want to debate, come prepared. Now let's get those arguments started:
2007 Baseball Library American League Silk Glove Team
Second Base: Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
Shortstop: Juan Uribe, Chicago White Sox
Third Base: Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers
Center Field: Melky Cabrera, New York Yankees
Right Field: Mark Teahan, Kansas City Royals
Pitcher: Fausto Carmona, Cleveland Indians
2007 Baseball Library National League Silk Glove Team
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
Left Field: Eric Byrnes, Arizona Diamondbacks
Center Field: Carlos Beltran, New York Mets
Right Field: Austin Kearns, Washington Nationals
Catcher: Russell Martin, Los Angeles Dodgers