Thursday, April 20, 2017

Red Sox Awards History: Gold Glove

The Gold Glove Award was introduced in 1957 to award outstanding defense for each position.  The voting has changed over the years and there have been a number of rather regrettable choices for the award (Derek Jeter).  The Red Sox have had at least one player at each position win the award.

Betts wasted no time establishing himself as an elite defensive player, despite the fact that he came up through the minors as a second-baseman.  In 2016 he was second in Defensive WAR, and was in the top five in assists and double plays.  He led the league in putouts and fielding percentage.

To date, Boddicker is the only Red Sox pitcher to win the Gold Glove Award.  I am a little fuzzy on why he won it.  He did not lead in any major fielding category, and he only picked off one runner.  It must have been due to reputation.

The Red Sox had two Gold Glove winners in 1990 as Burks emerged as a very good all-around player, winning both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award.  He led center fielders in fielding percentage and was in the top five in assists.

Often overshadowed by Mark Belanger, Burleson finally broke through and managed to win his only Gold Glove Award in 1979.  Burleson always had a reputation for being a terrific defensive shortstop, but he finally won the award when he led the league in fielding percentage.  He is the only Red Sox shortstop to win it.

Though he was not gifted with the strongest of throwing arms, Ellsbury's speed and ability to get good jumps on balls hit into the outfield gave him a reputation as being a terrific defensive center fielder.  He led the league in putouts and fielding percentage in winning his only Gold Glove, though he probably deserved one or two more.

DWIGHT EVANS - RF (1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985)
The team record holder for most Gold Glove Awards is Dwight Evans.  Only three outfielders have won more of them than Evans.  His greatest strength was a rocket for an arm in right.  Evans led the league four times in putouts, three times in assists, three times in double plays, and three times in fielding percentage.  He is one of the greatest defensive right fielders of all time.  Another reason why he should be in the Hall of Fame.

On top of his Rookie of the Year Award, Fisk also won the Gold Glove Award.  It was his only Gold Glove during his very long and successful career.  Fisk led the league in putouts and assists and was second in the league in the number of base runners he caught stealing.

Gonzalez arrived in Boston with a reputation as one of the best defensive first-basemen in the game, and he did not disappoint.  He led the league in assists and was second in fielding percentage.  His acquisition moved Kevin Youkilis, himself a terrific defensive first-baseman, across the diamond.

DOUG GRIFFIN - 2B (1972)
It is a good thing Griffin was so good defensively, because he really could not hit.  Griffin was in the top five in putouts and range factor for second-basemen in 1972.  

Jackie Jensen was the Red Sox' answer to Mickey Mantle, though to a much lesser degree, other than one great season.  He could do everything on the baseball field, including play great defense.  He led the league in assists and double plays in his only Gold Glove season.  

FRED LYNN - CF (1975, 1978, 1979, 1980)
Lynn took the baseball world by storm in his rookie season of 1975, winning just about every award possible.  He would go on to win four Gold Gloves in his career, all while with the Red Sox.  He was a great defensive center fielder in his early years, and his all-out style led to making many highlight reel plays.

FRANK MALZONE - 3B (1957, 1958, 1959)
He won the first three Gold Glove Awards for third-basemen in the American League, but it was not long before Brooks Robinson took over the mantle as the premier defensive player at the position.  For a while though, Malzone was the best in the league.  He regularly led the league in several defensive categories.

DUSTIN PEDROIA - 2B (2008, 2011, 2013, 2014)
Since he is still active, it is possible that Pedroia will win more Gold Glove Awards.  He will also likely be the best defensive second-baseman in Red Sox history.  Pedroia is currently fourth all-time in fielding percentage in his career.  He is regularly among the league leaders in multiple defensive categories.

TONY PENA - C (1991)
Already a three-time Gold Glove winner while with the Pirates when the Red Sox signed him as a free agent, Pena won the award in his second season with Boston.  It was his last such award.  Pena led the league in putouts, double plays, and runners caught stealing.

Red Sox management made the rather baffling decision to try to move Piersall to shortstop his first full season, a move which would not help much in his descent into mental illness.  Piersall was a gifted defensive outfielder, which he took great pride in.  1958 was not one of his best defensive seasons, but it was the only year he won the award.

GEORGE SCOTT - 1B (1967, 1968, 1971)
Surprisingly athletic for his size, Scott won eight Gold Gloves at first base during his career, including three with the Red Sox.  Scott was so good defensively that he was moved to third base for most of the 1969 season.  "Boomer" led the league in a number of defensive categories several times in his career.

Smith is one of the most underrated players in baseball history.  He was an excellent five-tool player who quietly put together a terrific career.  He only won one Gold Glove Award during his career, and he did rank in the top five in most major defensive categories.

We now know that Varitek's pitch-framing skill was elite.  He was never really known for catching a lot of base stealers, but his calming presence on the pitching staff and game-calling were always highly touted.  2005 was not his best defensive season, but he was recognized for his career up to that point.

Victorino was a center-fielder for most of his career, but he was moved to right field when he signed a free agent contract with the Red Sox as Jacoby Ellsbury was in center.  Victorino had a strong arm and made several highlight reel plays, including the one pictured on this card.  

CARL YASTRZEMSKI - LF (1963, 1965, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1976, 1977)
Taking over for the great Ted Williams was not easy, but there was one aspect of the game in which Yaz was far and away superior.  He was a terrific defensive outfielder whereas Williams was more of an ambivalent one.  Yaz won seven Gold Glove Awards, second in team history, and he deserved most of them. 

Youkilis came up as a third-baseman and had the athleticism to prove it, so he made one hell of a good defensive first-baseman.  He won this award largely on the strength of his record errorless game streak for first-basemen.

No comments:

Post a Comment