I guess this means Mike Mussina and Kenny Rogers have finally retired, huh?
White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle has finally won his first American League Gold Glove Award, becoming the second pitcher in White Sox history to win the honor. (Jim Kaat won two in the mid-1970s.)
This recognition is overdue for Buehrle, who has been one of the best fielding pitchers in baseball for the last decade. Since the 2001 season, Buehrle leads all major league pitchers with 63 pickoffs and ranks third with 501 total chances and 373 assists. Over his 10-year career with the White Sox, he has allowed just 40 stolen bases in 95 attempts, a 42.1 percent success rate.
This season, Buehrle led American League pitchers with eight pickoffs, 55 total chances and 41 assists. He committed just one error.
Typically, the same guys win Gold Gloves year after year, whether they deserve them or not. The award for American League pitchers has gone to either Mussina or Rogers for 12 out of the last 13 seasons. Now, both of those guys are out of the league, which opened the door for Buehrle to receive this honor.
You do have to wonder whether the Gold Glove is really an award for defense. The guys who win them are typically great hitters. Take a look at the other American League winners this year: Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, Placido Polanco, Derek Jeter, Evan Longoria, Ichiro Suzuki, Torii Hunter and Adam Jones.
All those guys can hit, but you're never going to convince me that Torii Hunter deserves a Gold Glove at this stage of his career. People vote for him out of habit. Meanwhile, Seattle's Franklin Gutierrez is the best defensive outfielder in the American League. He won't win a Gold Glove because he can't hit. And why isn't Carl Crawford winning the Gold Glove? He's another who deserves it, but he gets shut out because people are obliged to vote for Hunter and Ichiro every year.
Polanco is another who is past his prime. You know who deserves a Gold Glove? Polanco's double-play partner in Detroit, Adam Everett. But he can't hit like Jeter can and he's not "The Captain" of the Yankees, so he doesn't win.
I have no quarrel with the selections of Mauer and Teixeira, who excel both offensively and defensively. But some of these selections are made on the basis of good offensive numbers and seniority. I'm glad Buehrle finally got his due. There are others who are still waiting.