October 25th, 2013

Fister, Dirks named Gold Glove finalists

Rawlings has released its list of three finalists at each position for the Gold Glove awards. The Tigers have two — one probably expected, one probably not.

Doug Fister joins Blue Jays hurlers Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey as the Gold Glove finalists at pitcher. Buehrle has dominated this award, winning four in a row (2009-2011 AL, 2012 NL), but his defensive stats took a little bit of a dip this season (TWO errors!!!) on the artificial surface in Toronto. Fister had an errorless season with an AL-best 2.29 Range Factor, and he turned five double plays — tied for most among AL pitchers with Justin Verlander and Lucas Harrell.

In past years, those defensive stats would be relatively meaningless, since the Gold Gloves have been decided exclusively on voting from managers and coaches. This summer, however, Rawlings and SABR announced a Defensive Index statistic derived from Defensive Runs Saved, Ultimate Zone Rating and Runs Effectively Defended, which was sent to managers and coaches as a statistical resource guide to go with the ballots. Of course, there’s no guarantee how much they’ll take stats into account.

The plan, according to Rawlings and SABR, is to also have the SABR Defensive Index complement the judgement by the managers and coaches. The SDI will account for 30 total votes — or approximately 25 percent — of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award selection process, and will be added to the votes from the managers and coaches.

The other Tigers Gold Glove finalist is left fielder Andy Dirks — yes, Dirks. He finished second in Ultimate Zone Rating among AL left fielders with enough innings to qualify (though the leader, Texas’ David Murphy, isn’t among the finalists) and led the group in Range Factor (putouts plus assists per game). He had seven outfield assists and two errors.

The finalists in left include Kansas City’s Alex Gordon, who has won back-to-back Gold Gloves, and Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes. Gordon had another very good year, and he would seem to be a favorite here.

Among those Tigers who didn’t get consideration this year were shortstop Jose Iglesias, center fielder Austin Jackson and right fielder Torii Hunter. Iglesias, though he certainly had some defensive gems after becoming the Tigers’ everyday shortstop in August, made just 67 starts at short this season. Jackson faced a statistically strong group of AL center fielders and didn’t make the cut statistically (neither did Mike Trout). Hunter tied for the AL lead in assists among right fielders but didn’t rank high on other statistical levels.

The Gold Glove winners will be announced Tuesday night at 8pm ET on ESPN2.