By Jason Wojciechowski on October 30, 2012 at 7:30 PM
It was announced today that Josh Reddick won the right-field Gold Glove award (remember that outfield Gold Gloves these days are by position, rather than just three outfielders, eliminating the possibility of three center fielders taking home the hardware, as, frankly, should have happened every year under the old scheme). Here's Susan Slusser's story, which notes that Reddick is the first A's outfielder to win the award since 1985, and the first Athletic overall since Eric Chavez in 2006.
First, by the stats I don't use, Josh Reddick led the American League in UZR in right. Jason Heyward, the National League winner, led his league in the stat as well. Surprisingly enough, Shin-Soo Choo, one of the other three finalists for the gold, finished last at -17 runs. If DRS is your thing, Reddick led both leagues at +22, with Heyward at +20 and Choo at -12.
But what about the stat I do use? Baseball Prospectus's FRAA, which makes no use of the questionable ball-in-play data, Reddick finishes much worse, at around +4, with American Leaguers Nick Swisher, Alex Rios, and Nelson Cruz ahead of him. The difference between Reddick and the top of the league by FRAA is nine runs, which is easily within what I understand to be the margin of error given the number of balls in play that we're talking about, and the voters could be forgiven for seeing Swisher and Cruz bumbling around in the outfield and not quite believing that FRAA has them right. For what it's worth, the system has liked both men's work for years over teams with different pitching staffs and so forth. Note also that Clay Davenport's version of FRAA, the underpinnings of which I can't really speak to but which I'm 99.9 percent certain also does not rely on batted-ball data, has the same ordering of Swisher-Rios-Cruz-Reddick, though the magnitude of their contributions is so much higher (and the worst figures are so much lower) that one suspects a different approach to regression to the mean than Colin Wyers has taken with BP's FRAA.
I have no idea what's right. What I would propose is that neither do most of you and neither do any of the voters. Most of us have a team that we root for and thus a team that we watch, maybe even obsessively. Three hours a night every night of the baseball season less a day off here and there leaves precious little time to watch other teams, which means that most of what we see of Nelson Cruz or Alex Rios or Nick Swisher comes in the games when they're playing the A's. Not only do we watch these players just a dozen or so times a year, but we watch them with a jaundiced eye, wishing that they will not catch baseballs, feeling happiest when they in fact do not catch baseballs. Arguably, then, many of us remember best the players that rival outfielders do not make.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to begrudge Reddick his award. Why would I? Even if I took FRAA completely at face value, part of taking the stat at face value is knowing that there's a margin of error built in, and thus knowing that Reddick might well have been better than the players who ranked ahead of him. So it's cool for Reddick, and it would have been cool for anyone who won. Well, except Jeff Francoeur. That guy is terrible.
What else, what else? Joseph Lopez says not to trade any of the A's outfielers. Billy Beane agrees.
Dallas Braden and Joey Devine were both outrighted by the A's recently, though I missed it if there was an announcement of that fact. Today came the news that both had cleared waivers and declined the outright assignment to Triple-A, electing free agency instead. Here's Jane Lee and here's Susan Slusser. Braden isn't likely to be able to come back before the second half of 2013, and Lee notes that the A's aren't going to make a push to sign Devine. Slusser has this:
"I was so happy for them and hoping they'd go all the way," Devine said. "But I knew the writing was on the wall for me in Oakland when I said I'd love to come back and rehab there and was told every possible reason I couldn't go, like the clubhouse was too small and the trainers too busy."
Yowser. It's probably not unfair of the A's -- the odds that Devine was ever going to help the A's again were exceedingly low, so why have the major-league trainers, who are busy dealing with players currently on the roster, divide their attention even further? Also, the A's clubhouse really is small, or so I've heard. But still, that's kind of harsh, no?
Devine claims that his elbow is completely pain-free. You can't trust an arm that's been utterly and totally unable to stay healthy for as long as Devine's has, but he had so much talent when he was injury-free that there's always the chance that a minor-league deal could create an eighth-inning monster for someone. Too bad there's almost zero chance at this point that that someone is Oakland.
Braden still has a sense of humor, not to mention an awareness of realities:
Braden is still in the strengthening portion of his rehab from surgery to repair a partial rotator cuff, and he should resume throwing in about a month or so. He expects to be ready to pitch in a game by midseason, and he believes he will not have trouble finding a job.
"That will take care of itself," he said. "I'm left-handed and I have a heartbeat."
Lefties really do get all the chances in the world, so he's not wrong. I can't imagine anyone giving him a major-league deal, but he should have his pick of split contracts. I would be entirely unopposed to the A's bringing him back on such a deal and hoping he can pitch in long relief or as a starter (if the rotation falls apart from injury or ineffectiveness) in the second half while not really worrying about it if he can't. The team should have pitching depth out the 'zoo, but more can't really hurt. I mean, whose spot would he be taking? Jesse Chavez?