On Monday, Rawlings announced that Shin-Soo Choo was one of three players named as a finalist for the American League Gold Glove in right field. Though he lost to Josh Reddick and we don’t know how many votes he or Jeff Francoeur (the other finalist) received, we do know that he at least received some serious consideration from the managers and coaches who vote for the defensive awards each year.
In this edition of the Weekly Wroundtable, we asked our panelists: Should Shin-Soo Choo have won the Gold Glove? Joining us as a guest contributor this week are Did The Tribe Win Last Night?‘s Vince Guerrieri and Indians Prospect Insider’s Charlie Adams.
Vince Guerrieri (Did The Tribe Win Last Night?): I’m a little disappointed that Choo didn’t win it. He’s a free agent after next season, and everyone’s willing to concede he’s out the door. A Gold Glove could make him that much more appealing as trade bait.
Josh Reddick had 15 outfield assists, four fewer than Jeff Francoeur, who led the league, and three double plays. Choo, comparatively speaking, had five outfield assists and a .993 fielding percentage. He also had two errors and one double play. Coaches and managers vote on the Gold Glove, and can’t vote on players from their own team. This probably hampered Choo’s chances, since it appeared for most of the second half of the season that the Indians were incapable of doing much right.
Choo’s regarded, and not without some merit, as having a strong arm, capable of cutting down runners at the plate from near the visitors’ bullpen at Progressive Field. But it’s really hard to argue with Reddick’s season.
Charlie Adams (Indians Prospect Insider): No, Shin-Soo Choo doesn’t deserve the AL Gold Glove, nor did he deserve to be among the finalists. He was a below-average fielder according to both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference and he by the 100 or so games I observed he didn’t play particularly well. His arm is a true weapon, but that is only a small component of playing defense and he doesn’t cover the greatest area in the outfield nor make the best reads. He is probably not a truly below-average (as this years #s indicated) outfielder, but he definitely didn’t deserve the award of being called the best in the AL.
Katrina Putnam: Choo is one of my favorite players, so I don’t enjoy saying this, but there’s absolutely no way he earned a Gold Glove this year. He’s got a terrific arm, and he’s very fast, but so are a lot of other outfielders. Choo could probably be considered an above-average defender, but not an award-winning one, and this year he struggled on the field all season long. He took poor routes to balls and had trouble fielding plays cleanly, which cost the team quite a few runs. He was certainly not the best right fielder in the AL, and not even the best defensive player on the team. If any Indian should have been nominated, it should have been Jason Kipnis or Casey Kotchman.
Choo’s nomination probably shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise, though. It’s clear that the Gold Glove awards have lost their value when Mike Trout fails to win one after his amazing season.
Lewie Pollis: I’ve already offered my opinion in great detail, so suffice to say that my answer is no. Two years ago I probably would have considered Choo worthy of the gilded hand-covering (meaning that he was at least close enough to being one of the game’s best outfielders that my bias would take him the rest of the way), but no longer. He just looked lost in right field this year, and if the sabermetric defensive stats are to be believed then he cost the Indians as many as 17 runs (about two whole wins’ worth) compared to a league-average fielder.
I’d love to see Choo win something just because he’s so unbelievably underrated by everyone outside Northeast Ohio, but he wasn’t even close to the best defensive right fielder in the game this year. And we wouldn’t want to sully the unimpeachable integrity of the Gold Gloves.
Steve Kinsella: Shin Soo-Choo does not deserve a Gold Glove unless it was solely based on arm and baseball acumen for throwing to the right base. He seems lacking when it comes to cutting balls off in corners, going back on a ball and making a play, or playing a carem in the corner or off the wall. One big difference that I have noted ove the past several years is an inability to move laterally and cut balls off in the gap. This is not an indictment against Choo as being an adequate fielder he just isn’t the type of fielder that I’d call the best in the game with the leather.
Evan Vogel: No, Shin-Soo Choo does not deserve a Gold Glove. His range factor is just a touch above average and he possibly cost the Indians defensively in 2012. Based on Baseball-Reference’s Rtot (-15) and Rdrs (-12), Choo had a negative impact on defensive contribution in 2012. His .993 fielding percentage and seven assists look better than the .983 fielding percentage and 14 assists that Josh Reddick, the winner of the right field AL Gold Glove award, posted, but Reddick also had a Rtot of 7 and a Rdrs of 22.
Choo makes the easy plays and has a solid arm. Other than that, he isn’t all that impressive in the outfield…or against left-handed pitching.
Edd Carroll: Shin-Soo Choo doesnt deserve a Gold Glove, but i must admit I don’t put any stock into Gold Gloves, they’re pretty much a meaningless reputation award at this point. Choo has always had a good arm in right field, but this season especially he didn’t seem to play very inspiried in the field, especially in the last month or so of the season. But hey, they’re completely meaningless and he’s already checked out of Cleveland, so it would be nice for an Indian to win an award this year, so sure, why not him?
Merritt Rohlfing: I confess I am a huge fan of Shin-Soo Choo on the defensive side of the ball. In my eyes he can do no wrong. Unfortunately, there were too many times this summer where he misplayed a ball at the wall, or lost it in the sun or got a bad jump or just plain dropped the thing. His arm gets him out of trouble at times, and that is a thing of beauty.
I can understand why people nominated him, outfield assists are awesome, especially when the right fielder nails a guy at third. But no, Choo did not deserve even a nomination, I don’t even need to look at any metrics to know that. He did have a -17 UZR, his first substantially negative measurement defensively of his career. It’s almost more a travesty that Michael Brantley didn’t even get a mention. Either way, Choo was ugly, along with a lot of Tribe baseball this year.