We all kind of take it for granted that Brendan Ryan is absolutely playing out of his mind in the field. Some of us probably take it for granted that he's not going to win a Gold Glove, for a variety of the well-hashed reasons, insert grumbling about Jeter here.
I know that the gold glove is one of the more highly subjective awards, given out by managers and coaches. And I know that the Fielding Bible Awards rely a lot more on stats and expert opinion. So I know there's only so much one can do here, and apologies if I'm just clumsily going down the same path that the Fielding Bible Awards do...
I was curious about Ryan's stats, to see if they matched what we see in games. I know as of this writing there's 12 more games to play, but I can't imagine that 12 games make much of a difference in defensive stats at the end of the season. So I would like your opinions on ways to slice the data.
Here's what I dug up:
Past Gold Glove winners: I took a look at stats for AL Gold Glove shortstops going back to 2000. This goes back further than some of the advanced defensive metrics go, but at the risk of being arbitrary I went back that far solely because it catches some of the end of the Omar Vizquel Era. That's a recognizable enough gold standard for defense that it seemed worthwhile.
If there's a way to get a custom table in Fangraphs that includes a year from one player and a different year from a different one, I can't find it, so I have stuff pasted into a huge table after the jump.
Current AL shortstops: It's simple enough to get defensive stats for current qualified AL shortstops in 2012.
Advanced metrics: I think the frequent admonition has been to minimize or outright not use single-season samples when looking at UZR or DRS. Even though Brendan is 1st among AL shortstops in single-season UZR... So I grabbed a 3-year sample, 2010-2012, for active shortstops.
Here are some of Brendan's rankings that stood out to me.
In 3-year samples against current AL shortstops: 1st in DRS, RZR and UZR/150. 3rd of 13 in UZR. 4th of 13 in Fielding %. 6th of 13 in error rate. 10th of 13th (i.e. 4th best) in total errors.
This year, vs. AL shortstops: 2nd in OOZ and # of double plays. 3rd in Fielding %. 9th of 11 (i.e. 2nd best) in total errors - he has 8; Peralta and Hardy are tied for best with 6 each. 10th of 11 in putouts. 7th of 11 in assists.
Rank vs. AL Gold Glove SS, 2000-2011: 1st in OOZ. 1st in UZR/150. (single-season, danger danger will robinson). 8th in total errors (i.e. 3rd best). 6th in fielding %. 9th in double plays. Last in putouts. 2nd to last in assists.
A side tangent on offense:
Probably no point in digging out his offense compared to other shortstops. If someone is factoring in offense in a defensive award, there's only so much to say. WAR likely does a decent enough job already of quantifying how Ryan's defense offsets his offense.
"Hits like a pitcher, fields better than Omar": Does it help to note that his .249 wOBA is 5th when compared to all NL pitchers with 40 or more PA? :) If the NL is ok with average offense, above average defense from the shortstop, and then poor offense/ minimal defense from the pitcher, I'd think the AL could be ok with poor offense / superior defense from the shortstop, and average offense / obviously no defense from its DH.
I.e. Brendan Ryan plus Jaso/Montero at DH is equal or superior to Any NL Shortstop plus any Pitcher, if you want to drag offense into the discussion of a defensive award.
I don't know what conclusions to draw from this, necessarily. I know I'm biased in looking at all of this because I already want him to be recognized with a mainstream award. (I don't consider Fielding Bible Award mainstream.) But I wanted to start somewhere.
What is the case one can make for Brendan Ryan winning a Gold Glove?
Here's a collection of the raw single-season data I was looking at. Hopefully the table below is legible; I was able to read this on my desktop with LL set to Wide View, so sorry if this is weird in Narrow, or for mobile users, etc. Notice some of the stats don't go back far enough to cover 2000-2002.
|Omar Vizquel||Indians (2000)||231||416||3||99||0.995|
|Omar Vizquel||Indians (2001)||219||414||7||88||0.989|
|Alex Rodriguez||Rangers (2002)||-1.4||9||5.3||12.8||12.7||261||472||10||109||0.987|
|Alex Rodriguez||Rangers (2003)||1369.2||8||377||340||0.902||45||-0.3||2.9||9.9||12.4||11.2||227||464||8||110||0.989|
|Derek Jeter||Yankees (2004)||1341.2||-13||372||298||0.801||29||0.3||-5.5||4.5||-0.7||-0.7||273||392||13||95||0.981|
|Derek Jeter||Yankees (2005)||1352.2||-27||472||374||0.792||26||-1.9||-18.8||5.7||-14.9||-13.4||262||454||15||96||0.98|
|Derek Jeter||Yankees (2006)||1292.1||-16||385||310||0.805||28||-0.8||-8.7||2.2||-7.3||-7.7||214||381||15||81||0.975|
|Orlando Cabrera||Angels (2007)||1330.2||5||374||302||0.808||51||0.6||7.7||4.5||12.7||13.7||239||415||11||104||0.984|
|Michael Young||Rangers (2008)||1389.2||2||422||352||0.834||57||0.5||10.4||3.4||14.3||13.3||242||472||16||101||0.978|
|Derek Jeter||Yankees (2009)||1260.2||3||326||276||0.847||25||-1.7||3.1||5||6.4||8||206||340||8||75||0.986|
|Derek Jeter||Yankees (2010)||1303.2||-9||356||277||0.778||38||0.6||-11.8||6.5||-4.7||-5.4||182||365||6||92||0.989|
|Erick Aybar||Angels (2011)||1262||-1||343||284||0.828||65||2.1||-4||3.1||1.2||0.9||239||406||13||95||0.98|