As per the Mariners official twitter account….
Brendan Ryan and Dustin Ackley are in the running for gold glove honors. The fact that Derek Jeter won the award last season for AL shortstops is one of many events that has diluted the value of the award to sabermetricians. But if Ryan wins this season, it will likely garner unanimous support from both baseball writers and stat nerds alike. Not only has he been spectacular this season with the glove, he’s been spectacular his whole career, and deserves to start winning some hardware.
Fangraphs’ UZR puts Ryan three full runs ahead of his next-best competition, J.J. Hardy, of the surprising Orioles. In other words, UZR suggests that Ryan has saved the Mariners more runs that Hardy has saved the Birds. DRS, another defensive system measuring runs saved, ranks Ryan nine runs ahead of second-place Hardy. These defensive systems attempt to measure more than just errors, and one category specifically includes double plays. Brendan Ryan’s double play efficiency alone is two runs better than the competition, which segues nicely to his up-the-middle infield mate, Dustin Ackley.
Ackley is definitely in the Gold Glove conversation if we use UZR and DRS as our starting points. UZR ranks Ackley third, about three runs behind the leader, Dustin Pedroia, while DRS has both of them trailing Robinson Cano by four runs. As expected, Ackley’s ability to turn the double play earned him extra runs saved, but it wasn’t quite enough to make up for other relative shortcomings.
The stats support the fact that Ackley is an above average second baseman defensively, but not necessarily the best. Even if we use two full years of data, and pro-rate for Ackley’s half-season in 2011, there are three players outperforming him over that time by UZR’s standards. And Pedroia beats him out in DRS as well.
I’m not saying this is how the voting is going to go, but UZR and DRS are currently the best, publicly available statistics for measuring defensive value. Ryan deserves the shortstop’s Gold Glove, hands down, but Boston’s Pedroia probably deserves it among AL second basemen. However, we as Mariners fans can appreciate that fact that a guy originally thought to be a league-average second basemen at best is now legitimately in the discussion for the Gold Glove.