Every year, there are surprises, snubs, and sure things when it comes to the awards handed out by Major League Baseball at the end of every season. Yesterday, the Rawlings Gold Glove was awarded to a variety of very deserving recipients for their achievements in the field. For American League right fielders, Kole Calhoun of the (unnecessarily added) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was voted the AL’s top right fielder over J.D. Martinez and most importantly, Oakland Athletics’ own Josh Reddick. Now for Calhoun, based off of the predictions leaked throughout the preceding week, would be labeled as a dark horse, seeing as how the majority of analysts picked Martinez as their popular choice to take home the award. This obviously made Reddick something of a dark horse as not many chose Reddick and I’m here to get to the bottom of why. According to mlb.nbcsports.com, “sabermetric component was added in 2013, providing a statistical guide from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) to the voting body.” This means there is another component to consider besides just the managers vote, which is how the award used to be solely decided. Within the sabermetric area, I understand where Reddick would fall short by voting standards. However, it doesn’t change my stance that Reddick is the best right fielder in the American League. Statistically, Calhoun is superior to Reddick in the following categories: Assists (11 to 6) Range Factor per 9 innings (2.30 to 2.0), and BIS Defensive Runs Saved Above Average (5 to 1). Reddick also had one more error than Calhoun (6 to 5), but let me tell you why this all should be taken with a grain of salt. Calhoun played and started in 157 games this season whereas Reddick played in 143 and started in 134 – similar to the amount of games/starts he had in 2012 when he won his lone Gold Glove. This is an important factor to consider because it somewhat inflates the numbers posted by the right fielder from Anaheim (not Los Angeles). Calhoun had a total of 357 chances in 2015 while Reddick only totaled 268. However, nearly 100 extra chances on defense shouldn’t equate to just a 23 game (start) difference although it is significantly more. What this says to me is that numerically, Calhoun just happened to get more fly balls hit his way during the 2015 season, which would explain the slightly higher range factor.
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Yet, the real difference lies within the runs saved (5 to 1) and again there is an explanation. This also translates into the assist category (11 to 6) because the reason Calhoun is the superior in both would be because he has not yet earned the respect of base runners within the AL. Some may call this is naïve, but from watching both teams intently I can say this: folks don’t try Reddick’s arm. From just watching A’s vs. Angels games, you can see both sides. Green and gold base runners attempt to run on Calhoun whereas evenMike Trout
knows he had better be sure before he tries to go first-to-third on Reddick. These aren’t missed opportunities; just opportunities not given to Reddick purely because of the respect he has from speedsters around the league. This shouldn’t count against him; in fact it should improve his case. Unfortunately, there isn’t a statistic to quantify the “fear factor” Reddick imposes on opposing base runners. This is why next season, I bet the fact that now Calhoun is known as a “Gold Glover” automatically limits the amount of assist opportunities.
For these reasons, Reddick should have received his second Gold Glove in 2015. Yet, just like the entire Oakland Athletics’ season – which by the way definitely had an influence in this award selection – he came up short. But hey, there’s always next year.