Highlight plays and Gold Gloves

To me, one of the factors that adds to the impact of Curtis Granderson’s incredible catch Friday night was the player it came against. Grady Sizemore has probably had more highlight catches over the course of his career, certainly more memorable catches at the fence or near the track. In fact, one of his highlight catches last year or two years ago was a diving catch going back in the gap that robbed Granderson in Cleveland.

So when somebody mentioned Sizemore to Granderson, his thoughts went to that catch pretty quickly.

“He’s robbed me of a few, too, here in this ballpark,” Granderson said after the game. “That’s the only place we seem to do it. Our ballpark’s so big, you can’t play deep enough, and if we do, we can’t hit it to center field. He’s definitely taken away a lot of balls against our team, and against me in particular. I get the chance to even it out, sure enough. He’s probably going to be trying to get me tomorrow.”

When you think about the ballpark comments, it’s a great point. Most of Granderson’s highlight catches in his career have been sliding or diving grabs in front of him. The one memorable grab at the fence from him in my mind is the catch he made to rob then-Red Sox player Wily Mo Pena on July 8, 2007. You can watch the replay here under the top play link and realize how far he had to run to get to the fence.

It raises an intriguing question that has come up before: How big of a role do highlight plays factor in Gold Glove awards? These are the plays coaches around the league see and hear about the next day in their respective clubhouses, and coaches make the vote. Granderson was arguably been underrated as an outfielder, though his stats took a little bit of a dip last year.

Well, already this season you have the incredible throw to the plate Granderson made on the fly last month, and now this. If Granderson can put up the stats — he put a LOT of emphasis on his defense this spring — will highlight plays become a factor that gets him serious Gold Glove consideration?

5 Comments

that was one of the best catches i,ve seen especially because it would have been a walk off homer. granderson is great but i think he should be batting 3rd instead of leadoff.

The catch in 2007 was more spectacular, really it was on a very rare level, but this catch was much more meaningful. Didn’t they lose that game to the Sox in 07? Both catches were SWEET though.
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The thing about this catch that made it so special was the kind of “millisecond emotional roller coaster ride” it provided. I was, as usual, watching mlb.com on my big 16 inch computer screen, and when the ball jumped off Grady’s bat I thought “This is trouble”. He centered it. So then the camera pans to center field and you see Grandy already back to the wall and out of room, reading his body language, I’m expecting the worst, but trying, as we all do, to will the ball to stay in the park. Grandy leaps and I perceive that the ball disappears into his glove. But the announcer calls it a HR. And of course, in that split second of time I accept his call as correct and I’m angry at him for making it. I’m not angry with Sizemore, I’m initially more angry with the announcer for making the call than the player for hitting it. Funny how that works.
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…………..Curtis’ glove carries beyond the fence, then swings back inside the park, he reaches into it on it’s forward motion, and he wings the ball back into the infield. The announcer, for a millisecond is stunned, somewhat embarrassed, and is forced to reverse his call. What a game! This is why we watch and love baseball. It’s like poetry…….sorta.
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Did anyone else see Curtis point to his temple after that throw back in, as if to say, “Sorry, what was I thinking by not hitting the cutoff man”? Not sure if I interpreted that correctly or not, but imagine if he was actually apologizing for the throw after saving the game. I wouldn’t put it past Curtis. What a great individual!…….and ballplayer of course.

“No it isn’t” should become part of the lexicon. I think Granderson was acknowledging that he missed the cutoff man, and that they had a game-ending DP if he hit him. That would have elevated the play into Willie Mays status. BTW, the Tigers did win that Red Sox game in 2007, I remember it well. It was the final weekend before the AS break and we swept Boston. It was the last time this team has been a dominant force in the AL.
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To address the original question, I’ve heard different theories put forth on what goes into that voting. Some think it’s actually based on the player’s offensive production. Then you have long time reputations coming into play. I know that out of town announcers, at least, are constantly calling Inge the best thirdbaseman in baseball, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Beltre grabbed the GG again. Not that he doesn’t deserve one. Too bad there can be only one.
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I think this particular highlight play might get Grandy some love in the voting because it was a game-saver. All in all, my own opinion is that the award should be based on day to day excellence, not highlight plays. I mean, even Raburn pulled off a highlighter last night. A guy like Polanco, for example, who time and again turns that DP should receive lots of credit when doling out individual kudos. But that’s just my opinion. I’d think voters can’t help but be influenced by a heavily replayed highlight.
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–Rich

The Granderson vs Sizemore thing reminded me of something else that happened. Before the 2007 season, I was visiting some baseball-related discussion board and someone had posted one of those polls, the question being “who will end up being the best centerfielder, Sizemore or Granderson?” The voting was a total runaway for Sizemore so, although I never posted on that board, I did cast a vote for Curtis and explained his work ethic and background and how I thought he’d end up being the better of the two. Well, I was literally hooted right off that board. :-) Imagine my satisfaction as the season unfolded and Grandy whupped Grady in nearly every category, including fewer strikeouts. And yes, that little poll did again cross my mind when Curtis made the catch last night.
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–Rich

I agree Rich as great as that one was last night I believe the one in 2007 was more incredible. And you are absolutely right that we swept the Red Soxs that weekend and were in first place I believe.
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Last night what gets lost between Justin’s start and Granderson’s catch. There were other good plays made that also saved Justin. Raburn, Polanco, Cabrera and Everett all made great plays.
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Wont see the game tonight
GO TIGERS
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GK

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