Ah, the Gold Glove Award. Given each year to those who are thought to be the best defenders at their respective positions, this award has become one of the last bastions where the sabermetric approach has failed to take hold. For example, Derek Jeter has won multiple Gold Glove awards, despite being considered one of the worst fielding shortstops through advanced statistics. Yet, as is often the case, Jeter’s reputation and ‘jump throw’ sway voters to continually place him atop the ballot.
This year, Desmond Jennings appears on the ballot for left field. Jennings does have statistics that may look attractive to the voters; specifically the zero in the error column. The idea of a perfect fielding percentage may be enough to get him sufficient votes to earn the Gold Glove Award. However, he was more than someone that was just able to catch balls hit nearby. Jennings ranked fifth in putouts in left with 174, fourth in range factor at 1.60, and was second in total zone runs with 10. All together, Jennings had a solid season in the field.
Joining Jennings on the ballot are Alex Gordon and David Murphy. Jennings had a better fielding percentage than both, and the same amount of outfield assists as Murphy with four. Here, Gordon blew away the competition, notching 17 assists. Murphy led the American League in total zone runs with 12, while Gordon only had two. Yet, Gordon’s range factor, 2.12, was much better than both Murphy (1.78) and Jennings.
While Desmond Jennings is a worth candidate, his ability to win the American League Gold Glove Award for left field may be determined by whether or not the voters look beyond Jennings’ perfect fielding percentage.