Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Machado's Gold Glove chances; Davis snubbed; Buck moving on up - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Machado’s Gold Glove chances; Davis snubbed; Buck moving on up

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

This was not a banner year for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.

He pressed at the plate in the first half, and struggled in September after returning to form in July and August. His .259 average was a career worst and his .310 on-base percentage represented his lowest mark since his debut season in 2012.

His baserunning was particularly head-scratching at times and defensive metrics weren’t particularly kind to Machado. His six defensive runs saved at third base tied for his lowest career mark and paled to the 35 defensive runs saved he had in 2013.

But no one can tell me there is a better defensive third baseman in the American League right now. And I could make the argument that Machado’s defense was at least close to what it was in 2013; you have to remember that he didn’t have a healthy J.J. Hardy next to him for much of this year, and he may have felt a little more pressure to make every play.

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His 14 errors committed were the second highest of his career, but in the only season he had more, he won the AL Gold Glove (19 errors at third in 2015).

And he should win the award again – his third – in 2017.

On Thursday it was announced he was one of three finalists at the AL hot corner, along with Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria and Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez.

I’ve watched Longoria play for a long time now, and the two-time Gold Glover is an outstanding all-around player and an exceptionally smooth defender. He led AL third basemen this year with 11 runs saved – nearly twice as many Machado.

But if you read this site religiously, you know I don’t think much of advanced defensive metrics. There are way too many variables, and I’ve yet to find one I trust to paint the full picture (Machado’s 1.0 Defensive WAR was slightly below Longoria’s 1.3, for what it’s worth).

Longoria plays a tremendous third base for a 32-year-old, but he can no longer do what the 25-year-old Machado produces on a nightly basis.

I haven’t seen Ramirez play third much, and he probably should win the Silver Slugger at the position, given the fantastic year he had at the plate. But he started 86 games at the hot corner this year, and that’s not enough, in my opinion, to take the award away from Machado (or Longoria).

So, pencil in Machado for his third Gold Glove – he certainly deserves it.

Davis gets no defensive love

We all know this was another disastrous offensive year for first baseman Chris Davis. And according to defensive metrics, Davis had a rough one in the field, too. He had a negative 1.3 defensive WAR and a negative 5 defensive runs saved.

Poppycock, I say.

Davis played a really strong first base, specifically the way he scooped throws from the left side of the infield. It became more apparent when Tim Beckham took over at shortstop. Davis had to play first base like a hockey goalie with Beckham’s strong but erratic arm throwing missiles from deep in the hole.

Davis was a Gold Glove finalist last year, but was passed over this year in favor of Eric Hosmer, Mitch Moreland and Carlos Santana.

Hosmer and Moreland both have strong defensive reputations, but Santana has been an offensive-first player dating back to his catching days.

I have no idea how much Santana has improved as a first baseman (he had a 0 Defensive WAR this year), but I do know that this year Davis was as good as he was in 2016, and may have been better given the additional challenge of Beckham.

Showalter’s moving on up

Buck Showalter is the dean of American League East managers now that Joe Girardi is not being retained by the New York Yankees, ending a decade in the Bronx.

Only three managers in all of baseball have been with their current teams longer than Showalter, who was hired in Aug. 2010. Los Angeles Angels skipper Mike Scioscia is the longest tenured manager followed by San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy and Kansas City’s Ned Yost, who was hired a couple months before Showalter.

I’ve written this before, but it’s pretty amazing that Showalter, who had the reputation of not staying in one place particularly long, is now one of the most rooted managers in the game. That’s a credit to him, and to management for valuing continuity.

As for Girardi, I think he is among the best in baseball. I’d hire him in a nanosecond if I had an opening. I can’t imagine he’ll be out of the game for long.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. ComeBack2Camden

    October 27, 2017 at 9:16 am

    No matter how metrics they come up with, Gold Glove voters can’t seem to unmoor defense from offense in their minds. If a guy has a huge year at the plate, he suddenly becomes better looking in the field. Converse also true.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 27, 2017 at 9:17 am

      Yeah. And these are managers and coaches voting. The difference should be obvious.

    • Bancells Moustache

      October 27, 2017 at 9:35 am

      You said it Camden. I didn’t even realize Ramirez was a third basemen until this list was released.

      • Jbigle1

        November 5, 2017 at 1:53 am

        I mean it’s not right for Jose Ramirez to be in the top 3. Where was he starting playoff time? Second base. They moved kipnis to center field to keep Ramirez over at 2nd and urshela at 3rd. There’s no way he should be in the top 3. If anything throw him in the top 3 at 2nd

  2. Teejay

    October 27, 2017 at 9:27 am

    When I saw Girardi was not being retained my first thought was to move Buck upstairs and let Girardi take over as field manager. I know there are a lot of variables to work out (obviously) but it would be great if we could get it to that point.

    My second thought was Girardi to the Phils. MacPhail couldn’t land him in 2007 because we looked like a dumpster fire however the Phils seem primed for the next level and Girardi doesn’t have a potential Yankee opening calling his name.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 27, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Cannot imagine your first scenario. Fir multiple reasons. As for Girardi to Phillies. It crossed my mind too. Tho I think Klentak makes this hire with Andy approval.

  3. BoGator

    October 27, 2017 at 9:39 am

    What would the pitching staff’s ERA have been WITHOUT Machado and Davis? Until someone can measure that, defensive metrics are dead to me.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    October 27, 2017 at 10:18 am

    I think Machado wins this going away. I’m like you Dan, I don’t get too wrapped up in defensive metrics but I’m not sure the voters do either and Machado has reached a point where his reputation alone will win him a few shiny Rawlings. MLB isn’t immune to putting the sexy name up on the board as evidenced by Ramirez presence, a guy who I honestly thought was a left fielder until I read he was a 3B finalist. Manny in a walk.

    About those defensive metrics, apparently Chris Davis sucked at playing first base this year. I guess that was during the West Coast games I fell asleep for. Since I don’t watch every other 1B every night, I suppose I’ll just take MLB’s word that Eric Hosmer is the second coming of Keith Hernandez. Even still, Davis glove has always stood out to me (no small feat for a First Baseman, does anyone even remember Frank Thomas without a bat in his hand?), so it’s flummoxing to hear he is a sub-par defender on paper.

    Can’t see Girardi staying unemployed very long, not with basically the entire east coast in search of a manager. Seems like Philadelphia is most likely since the Mets have already filled their vacancy. The league went all NFL Black Monday this year. I’m curious, with front-office micro-management running amok, is this the new norm? Will Super GM’s whose laptops know everything there is to know about baseball ever repeatedly toss guys aside and find another stiff to stand on the top step wearing a windbreaker and hand the ump the lineup card? Hell, why not save time; give every player a Bluetooth earpiece and let the guy in the suite give the instructions after reviewing his Excel spreadsheet on the tendencies of Chase Headley on Wednesday night home games against left-handed pitching when it’s 84 degrees.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 27, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      Hey, the Astros are in the World Series. Watch your old-school-loving mouth. 🙂

  5. Orial

    October 27, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Interesting take on Manny. Ask him to make an incredible play-he will,coming in on a ball-he will,snap throw to 2nd-he will. But those momentary lapses are mind boggling. He’s definitely not the perfect player and has his flaws. Good point about not having Hardy next to him. I worry about Beckham’s presence.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 27, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Beckham also can make the spectacular play. But I think we’ll see just how steady Hardy was next year.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 27, 2017 at 1:40 pm

        Dan, they can ALL make the spectacular play at this level. It’s the consistency with easier stuff that makes the great ones. Case in point … I’m thinking of Brooks Robinson as I write this. I can’t say that Robinson made more spectacular plays than Manny does .. probably the opposite is true, but consistency with the routine plays will always keep Robinson in a class of his own and ahead of Machado.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          October 27, 2017 at 1:46 pm

          I failed to mention that I’m 100% with you on your point about missing JJ Hardy’s steadiness.

  6. GSISDANNO

    October 27, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Of all the awards that MLB does, the gold gloves probably have the least amount of legitimacy. I don’t think the managers and coaches do much thinking about it at all. I think that previous years’ awards are the main criteria. If a player has won it before, he has a much better chance of winning it again.
    In my opinion (which is biased), Machado, Davis, Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones should finalists. I thought his catch in the World baseball classic would help Adam Jones defensive reputation.
    If MLB really valued these awards, they would be more selective about who gets to vote.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 27, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      I’m with you. But awards are meant to be argued, I suppose. I have a BBWAA vote each year and I put tons of time into it and often told I’m an idiot (voted Mookie over Trout last year for MVP).

    • Paul Folkemer

      October 27, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      Keep in mind that defensive metrics do factor into the Gold Glove decisions, too. The winners are determined by a combination of manager/coach voting and the SABR Defensive Index. More about that here if you’re interested: https://www.rawlings.com/site-content/gold-glove-selection-criteria.html

      I think Davis had a strong case for being a finalist, and of course Manny deserved his finalist spot. But I disagree with you about Jones and Schoop. From watching them this year, Jones can’t quite cover as much ground as he used to, and Schoop turns a great double play but doesn’t have much range. They rate pretty poorly in defensive metrics, too.

  7. bv22

    October 27, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    In regards to Davis, it reminds me of the year Cal had like 2 or 3 errors all season long, set the record for consecutive games without an error, and still didn’t win the gold glove since he hit like .220 that year. Oddly, he won the GG the following year….

    As for Girardi, am I the only one who didn’t immediately think that the Nats are going to go after him to replace Baker?

    • Dan Connolly

      October 27, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      It certainly seems to be in the discussion.

  8. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 27, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Honestly guys, I can’t see the defensive genius in Chris Davis that everybody around here seems to see. For sure he’s above average, and yes he can pick’em with the best at first base. He also makes a LOT of nice snags on rockets that come his way, but I can’t count the times he waved catchable ground balls by as he tried to side straddle them instead of getting his body in front of the ball. He’s good … but Golden? I’m not sold.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 27, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      There’s also the arm. He can turn a 3-6-3 with the best of em. Maybe not golden. But in the convo.

  9. OsFanStuckInNY

    October 27, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Machado certainly had a high number of highlight reel plays, but he also had an alarming number of errors and errant throws that Davis & Mancini saved. I don’t know how well his competition played, but stats favor Longoria, whom I expect to win.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 27, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      His range is second to none, tho. You can expect rushed errors on plays few others would get to.

  10. John in Cincy

    November 3, 2017 at 2:32 am

    Manny, as usual, made some plays this year that no other AL third baseman makes, and I’d go so far on a few of the plays, to say no other even comes close to making. Here are a couple, and maybe not even the best (the first shows why voters need to start paying closer attention to Jonathan Schoop’s defense, as well as Chris Davis’).

    To my thinking, Girardi was the only AL East manager who gave Buck any competition as best in the division. Did he lose his job over his failure to challenge a call at a crucial moment in the ALDS? Would Showalter suffered a similar fate had he managing the Yankees when he neglected to bring in Zach Britton in the 2016 wild card game? Whatever the case, the margin of error in Boston and New York appears to be much smaller than in Baltimore.

  11. woody

    November 3, 2017 at 6:10 am

    First base gold glove is without the most flawed and arbitrary award of the season. As many of you have said, until they can somehow split the credit between IF and 1B on plays then really its just one opinion vs another. Thanks for the SABR clarification Paul, but really i’m no less skeptical – its not like they are also considering the velocity on the throw or how offline it is or the combination of everything. Maybe Statcast will do it – they’ve pretty much exhausted OF metrics this year.

    Anyway – lets hope next year we’re not discussing Davis’ defense merits come end of season as we’re busy talking about him hitting 50 dingers

  12. Jbigle1

    November 5, 2017 at 1:59 am

    Davis always grades out as a poor defender according to defensive metrics. Always surprised me. I suppose his range is limited but the way he picks it over there is incredible.

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