We have about four more months to go with our initial MLB Monday miniseries, examining the award winners for MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year in both the American and National leagues. We want to look at World Series MVPs, too, in addition to Manager of the Year awards as well. But today, we’re also going to add the Gold Gloves to our list officially, because they’re ridiculous.
We’ve discussed this before, and today we just want to highlight two individuals that we’ve stumbled across in our research: first basemen Don Mattingly and J.T. Snow. We’re not singling them out, because they’re not alone in collecting GGs they perhaps didn’t deserve. Yet they do represent two extreme cases as demonstrated below.
First, let’s take on Mattingly, one of our all-time favorite players, in truth. We hate that we had to take away his AL MVP in 1985, but it is what it is. Yet we have to look at his defense, as we discovered: Donnie Baseball won a whopping nine Gold Gloves (1985-1989, 1991-1994) in his career—yet somehow posted an overall minus-6.2 dWAR in his career.
How is that possible? Here is the breakdown (we included 1990 as well, even though Mattingly didn’t win the GG that year):
- 1985: -0.9 dWAR
- 1986: -0.8 dWAR
- 1987: +0.2 dWAR
- 1988: -0.6 dWAR
- 1989: -0.8 dWAR
- 1990: -0.2 dWAR
- 1991: -0.3 dWAR
- 1992: -0.3 dWAR
- 1993: -0.3 dWAR
- 1994: -0.1 dWAR
This is incredible to see that in the 9 seasons he took home the defensive hardware, Mattingly totaled minus-3.9 dWAR. The only year he was a positive defender while winning the Gold Glove was in 1987, and even then he posted just 0.2 dWAR. Here are the 1B defenders in the AL with a better dWAR than Mattingly in 1987: Willie Upshaw, Eddie Murray, Pete O’Brien, and Darrell Evans (!).
We know this measurement is not perfect, but it is advanced thinking from smarter people than us. It’s also contextual, so there is plenty of value there (both literally and metaphorically). Now, onto Snow, who compiled minus-10.8 dWAR total over his career while winning six straight GGs from 1995-2000:
- 1995: -2.0 dWAR
- 1996: -0.8 dWAR
- 1997: -1.3 dWAR
- 1998: -0.5 dWAR
- 1999: -0.7 dWAR
- 2000: -1.2 dWAR
Hmmm. That adds up to -6.5 dWAR in years he won awards for his defense. The only year in Snow’s entire career, actually, where he was a positive defender came in 2003 (0.2 dWAR). Go figure. This is not as simplistic as it is made out to be, of course, but we do know some players got a lot of Gold Gloves they did not deserve.
We will figure this out in time for our future miniseries. We promise … until then, happy camping, baseball fans.