Monday, August 18, 2008

what it takes to be a winner

Okay, before I get to the Gold Glove stuff, I just wanted to remark on how difficult it has been lately to feel optimistic about the post-season possibilities for this team. The end of the year is fast-approaching and every time I think we're going to make this big run and blow right by Milwaukee for the Wild Card, something like yesterday happens and I have to wonder if there's really any realistic chance of that at all. 

Lohse, who up until recently had been our top starter, the guy who couldn't lose, has now lost three in a row. It's not that it's entirely his fault. In fact, yesterday he only gave up three runs, but our offense just couldn't get it going enough to help him. Our bullpen didn't do much to help either, but by that point it was probably already too late anyway. It was disappointing, to say the least. 

Secondly, gimme one second to vent on the whole retaliation issue. 

When Lohse came up to bat in the game yesterday, Vólquez threw one very up and very in and Lohse had to duck out of the way. 

Then when Vólquez was in the box, Lohse let him know that it hadn't gone unnoticed. 

He threw one just as up and just as in, the only difference being that Lohse's pitch caught Vólquez' bat and was a foul tip for strike one. (Vólquez ended up striking out on three pitches.) 

Now I usually side with Tony on retaliation pitches (he has publicly denounced pitchers who put the ball too close to the batter's head, whether it's intentional or not), especially if the batter gets hit, but in this case I felt that it was justified and I was glad to see Lohse not back down. 

I agree that he could have thrown it a little lower, and he probably heard about it from Tony later, but a pitcher has got to be able to stand up for himself and his team, and in a tense game an inside pitch can send a very strong message: If you push, we'll push back

At any rate, I was hoping it would give the team a little lift, a little energy, a little kick in the pants, but it didn't. At least not in that particular game... 

Now on to to the original topic, the Rawlings Gold Glove Award. Every year (for the last 51 years), nine players from each league are awarded the gold glove for their defensive performance at each position (catcher, pitcher, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, and three OF). The coaches and managers vote for the winners, but are not allowed to vote for their own players. 

Since Troy Glaus' name has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the award this year, I thought I'd take a minute and explore the statistics of the recent winners at third base. Scott Rolen won the Gold Glove for five straight years from 2000-2004 and then again in 2006. In 2005, the NL winner was Mike Lowell. In 2007 David Wright earned the honor. 

In 2000--Rolen--1080 innings (127 gs), 89 po, 245 a, 14 dp, 10 e, .971 fp (.298 ba, 26 hr) (The offensive numbers aren't officially supposed to count, but it's a fool who believes that they don't.) 

In 2001--Rolen--1329 inninngs (151 gs), 104 po, 325 a, 22 dp, 12 e, .973 fp (.298 ba, 25 hr) 

In 2002--Rolen--1360 innings (154 gs), 133 po, 335 a, 41 dp, 16 e, .967 fp (.266 ba, 31 hr) 

In 2003--Rolen--1339 innings (152 gs), 109 po, 298 a, 23 dp, 13 e, .969 fp (.286 ba, 28 hr) 

In 2004--Rolen--1228 innings (139 gs), 93 po, 325 a, 23 dp, 10 e, .977 fp (.314 ba, 34 hr) 

In 2005--Lowell--1126 innings, 107 po, 243 a, 34 dp, 6 e, .983 fp (.236 ba, 8 hr) 

In 2006--Rolen--1215 innings (126 gs), 93 po, 318 a, 32 dp, 15 e, .965 fp (.296 ba, 22 hr) 

In 2007--Wright--1418 innings (141 gs), 107 po, 324 a, 24 dp, 21 e, .954 fp (.325 ba, 30 hr) 

Troy Glaus so far this year: 1019 innings (117 gs), 81 po, 230 a, 24 dp, 5 e, .984 fp (.276 ba, 21 hr) 

If he plays all remaining innings (35 games x 9 assuming no extra innings=315), he'll end up with 1334 innings (152 gs). He has started 117 games at third, and if you stretch out his stats (and assume he starts all 35 remaining games at third), you could predict that he will end up with: 105 po, 299 a, 31 dp, 6-7 e, .984 fp (.276 ba, 27 hr). 

Compared to the numbers GG winners have posted in the past, and considering that Troy is currently at the top of the NL in all fielding categories, I'd say he has a very good (maybe great) chance at taking the trophy home. 

Of course, if you ask Troy, he'd tell you the only thing that matters is getting his team to the playoffs. If that happens, then he'll consider this a successful year. 

abbr: gs=games started, po=put outs, a=assists, dp=double plays, e=errors, fp=fielding percentage, ba=batting average, hr=home runs