Hey, that Photoshop job didn’t actually come out too badly! (Edit: happy now, you jackals? That glove is as gold as gold can be. Click here if you want to see the old green-ish version). (Edit 2: Reader Mike B picks up where I drop the ball. Amazing work!)
Anyway, it’s not verified yet, but Memories of Kevin Malone is reporting that Orlando Hudson is not the only Dodger Gold Glove winner – Matt Kemp wins one too, and in fact received the most votes of any outfielder.
Kemp probably doesn’t deserve this any more than Hudson did, as we mentioned yesterday. His UZR/150 of 3.2 was just 11th in the National League, far behind leader Nyjer Morgan’s 35.8 mark. Of course, the Gold Glove voting is a fantastically flawed process, which we should all know by now, and which Joe Posnanski clearly demonstrates in explaining the travesty of Adam Jones winning over Franklin Gutierrez in the AL. The same process is in play in the NL – Shane Victorino got the second-most votes, yet was a negative player based on UZR/150 (-4.2).
Still, whether he deserves this or not is immaterial. How many times have we read over the last few seasons that Kemp was an absolutely horrible outfielder? Hundreds? Thousands? From the Plaschkes and Oberjuerges of the world? Now, he’s a Gold Glove winner, and whether or not he really should be, it’s absolutely correct to have him in the conversation.
We’ve all seen the tremendous strides Kemp has taken from being a raw, yet talented, player who got by more on his own immense talent than his actual baseball skills. Sure, there were plenty of times in his first two seasons that he’d take a lousy route to the ball and either miss a hit that should have been caught, or use his outstanding speed to make a great catch on what should have been a routine play. But we don’t see much of that anymore, do we? There’s been constant improvement, and the stats make it extremely clear (his UZR/150 in his four years in the bigs, across all positions: -27.5, -8.5, -0.9, 3.2), but this is one case where we don’t even need to check the numbers. We’ve all seen it. This, more than anything, seems to be a testament to the hard work he’s put in towards trying to improve his baseball intelligence to complement his baseball skill set.
Congratulations, Matt. The voting is a complete joke, but that shouldn’t take away from the huge improvement he’s made. No longer can anyone question his defense based on lousy plays an inexperienced 21-year-old made in 2006.