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As award season dawns, more Silver and Gold for Zimmerman?

By Dave Sheinin

Today marks the opening of baseball's award season, with all the coveted hardware handed out over the next two weeks. It begins at 3:30 this afternoon with the announcement of the AL Gold Glove winners, and ends Nov. 23 with the AL most valuable player award.

For Nationals fans, the day that matters is tomorrow. That's when the the NL Gold Gloves, along with the Silver Slugger Awards for both leagues, are announced. And once again, it stands to be a big day for Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

A year ago, Zimmerman was doubly rewarded for his breakout 2009 season, earning both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards for NL third basemen, and joining Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp as the only NL players to win both.

One year later, Zimmerman has cemented his credentials as the premier third baseman in his league, and for that matter, one of the best players in the game. Despite missing a total of 20 games with various ailments, by at least one metric (Fangraphs.com's WAR, or wins above replacement) he actually contributed more to the Nationals' cause than he did in 2009.

On the surface, Zimmerman sure looks like a safe bet to pull off another Silver-and-Gold double-play. In terms of his offense, he led all qualifying NL third basemen in batting average (.307), on-base percentage (.388), slugging percentage (.510) and walks (69). New York's David Wright, who hit more homers and drove in more runs than Zimmerman (and who won the Silver Slugger in 2007 and 2008) represents his primary competition, but Zimmernan's 40-point edge in OPS ought to be enough to carry him.

As for the Gold Glove, Zimmerman's chances may depend on how stat-savvy the voters (NL managers and coaches) were in making their picks. By traditional measures, Zimmerman's defense slipped in 2010. He made the same number of errors (17) as he did in 2009, despite playing in 17 fewer games in the field and handing 115 fewer total chances, resulting in a 12-point drop in fielding percentage (from .963 in 2009 to .951 this season). That fielding percentage, in fact, ranked just 12th in the NL among qualifying third basemen.

But in more advanced metrics, such as Fangraphs.com's UZR (ultimate zone rating), Zimmerman again was ranked as an elite defender. His UZR of 13.9 ranked second among NL third basemen, behind San Diego's Chase Headley (16.5), who in 2010 played his first full season at third base. And in The Fielding Bible Awards, a vote by various sabermetrically inclined journalists and bloggers, Zimmerman narrowly lost out to Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria (voters didn't differentiate between leagues).

Besides, in Gold Glove voting, reputation typically counts more than anything else. And Zimmerman's reputation is pretty much unparalleled.

By Dave Sheinin  | November 9, 2010; 2:19 PM ET
Categories:  Ryan Zimmerman  
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Next: Zimmerman loses Gold Glove to Rolen

Comments

Mark Zuckerman at Nats Insider made pretty much the same post at 10:30 AM.

Posted by: TimDz | November 9, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I liked Ozzie's claim that he would have won more Gold Gloves if he had been a better hitter, and his related claim that if Alexi Ramirez doesn't get the Gold Glove he should at least get the Silver Slugger.

Posted by: markfromark | November 9, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I know some folks here don't like Zim's throwing, but the plays he makes are often breathtaking. I could be wrong, but I don't recall any of his errors costing the Nats a game last season.

Posted by: nats24 | November 9, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I think that Wright gets the Silver Slugger and in a close call, he deserves it. Much better RBi numbers, socred more, more HR's, more Doubles, stole a bunch of bases. And he had basically no help.

Placido Polanco is going to take the Gold Glove and he deserves it. Zim might not be as high as 4th for the GG. (Rolen and Wrght picked it pretty well too).

Posted by: dfh21 | November 9, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

They should give an award to the guy who is the most better than everybody else on the team.

Posted by: markfromark | November 9, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

dfh21, I'll certainly agree the Silver Slugger is a close call.
But I'll argue Zim.

The easy part.
If you count Wright's 19 SB's, you gotta count his 11 CS's. That's a lame success rate.

Scored more? Wright played 15 more games, had 62 more AB's and scored 2 more runs. Seriously, no advantage to Wright there.

RBI's, granted, advantage Wright.

HR's, not a big difference, but sure, advantage Wright.

More doubles? Now that's just cherry picking stats.

How about strikeouts? Wright had 161, Zim 98.

How about Batting Average? Zim, 24 point advantage.

OBP, advantage Zim.
SLG%? Wright has more HR's (and more doubles), but it's Zim with the higher Slugging percentage.

The 43 point advantage in OPS is fairly significant.

As for Gold Glove, the voters are old school. Zim won it last year. Whatever they saw last year that made them vote Zim has not changed. Zim repeats. (Although not arguing that Polanco is fully deserving)

Posted by: Sunderland | November 9, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Derek Jeter just won his fifth(!) Gold Glove makes me wonder how anyone can take the Gold Glove award seriously.

Posted by: NattyFan | November 9, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I think Zimmerman should win both awards for one simple reason: I'm completely biased 'cuz he plays on my hometown team. Numbers be damned. :-)

Posted by: Juan-John1 | November 9, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Watching Zim is a reason to go to the park all by itself. Hope he picks up an award or two, but regardless, a pure pleasure to watch.

Posted by: NatsFly | November 9, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

And yeah, Juan-John is exactly right!

Posted by: NatsFly | November 9, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Watching Zim is a reason to go to the park all by itself.

Sometimes there is not another one.

Posted by: markfromark | November 9, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland all good points, but I think that Wright gets it. A coin flip maybe. And should Kung Fu Panda have won it last year? Better OBP, better SLG, hit 40 points better than Zim. No. Zim knocked them in better, hit more HR's and scored more, so he won.

Zim was simply not great with the glove this year -- 17 errors in less than a full season, fielding percentage down to about NL 3B average. Not his year. Polanco caught everything and his psuedo stat defensive metrics are also very good. Rolen may be a dark horse as a former voter favorite.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 9, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Ok, Jeter just won in the AL with Alexei Ramirez kicking his ass in every category worth considering. Zim will likely win the GG. He is after all very popular and he hits a ton.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 9, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Not this year for Zim, the 17 errors,season cut short by injury and David Wright out hitting him in hr's and rbi's makes it hard in my mind for Zim to collect the hardware.

Posted by: dargregmag | November 9, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I hope Zim gets them both. I think he deserves the slugger as best offensive 3B in the NL and while I think he will lose some votes for the glove on his throwing, I think he should get special consideration for his range and acrobatics.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 9, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Zim gets it. None of the other contenders had to throw to an Iron Golem at 1b. It's no coincidence that his errors (almost all throws) were an issue. He had almost no errors saved by Dunn. Zimmerman is in a different galaxy than Wright as a fielder and did someone mention Rolen? The guy only has about a foot range on either side anymore. Used to be a great field and has great hands but he's not even close to Zimmerman.

Posted by: ouvan59 | November 9, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Zim's a good one. He'd get my vote over Wright although I think they're about even. I think Longorian is the best 3B in all baseball though.

Why do you people keep bring up this Zuckerman guy? Who is he and who the heck cares what he says? Weird...

Posted by: Dog-1 | November 10, 2010 6:38 AM | Report abuse

@Dog-1:
Mark Zuckerman and Ryan Goessling were the two Nats beat writers for the Washington Times. Zuckerman now puts out a web page at natsinsider.blogspot.com. Goessling is with MASN and puts out a column at www.masnsports.com/the_goessling_game.

Posted by: bertbkatz | November 10, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Last year everyone wanted Zim to get the GG -- and he deserved it -- largely b/c he had the most chances and his UZR rating was off the charts, this year his UZR is below Headley's by a lot and his chances were way down so we'll move on to some other sabermetic numbers that make our boy look good, AK trots out WAR and the foggy celebrity baseball egg-head driven Fielding Bible (with its cloudy Runs Saved category).

Zim has a sterling glove, but he is not hands down the best 3B in baseball, not by a sidearm, off balance throw 3 feet above a 6'6" Adam Dunn's out-stretched glove into the bleachers.

This idea that lateral range is the big winning factor for a 3B is something I do not get. 3B is a reaction position more than anything. SS's need great range, 3B's play closer to the plate than any other infielder and they need to be able to stab the ball, knock it down, charge a bunt, make a throw. It is nice when they can go side to side well, but it's not the primary skill need at the postion.

Scott Rolen out-gloved Zim in 2010. Rolen had more chances, half as many errors and his range factors were considerably better than Zim's. And I don't even think Rolen had the best year, I think Polanco should get the hardware. BUT, Zim will likely get it.

And someone above said Wright is not in the same galaxy as Zim -- wow. Wright has two of those Gold Gloves and though he made even more errors than Zim n 2010 (20 to Zim's 17), he had more than 100 more chances and his range numbers and fielding percentage beat Zim too. Not saying he's a better defender but it is not like Wright is beyond the Milky Way either.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 10, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

That would be *Ben* Goessling.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 10, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I heard that the Washington Timnes is coming back with new financing and that it will reconstitute the sports department. Wonder if Zuckerman will get his job back? Here's hoping.

Posted by: Natstoyou | November 10, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I heard Elijah Dukes is back in the clink for failing to pay spousal support, hope he gets out and gets a job (for his kids sake if nothing esle. Here's hoping.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 10, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Mark Zuckerman had the best Nats coverage all year, no contest. He led in all advanced journometrics stats.
**************
Why do you people keep bring up this Zuckerman guy? Who is he and who the heck cares what he says? Weird...
Posted by: Dog-1 | November 10, 2010 6:38 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 10, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

As we saw w/ Jeter in the AL, the GG doesn't always go to the best fielder, so even if you accept all of dfh21's excellent points, Zim could still win, and unlike Jeter, it wouldn't be a travesty.

Posted by: nats24 | November 10, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, 1a1. I guess I had Ryan on the brain. It shows that I never read the Times. I only have time for selected SI writers and Washington Post (fishwrap and web) for sports coverage each day.

Posted by: bertbkatz | November 10, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, bertb. It's quite understandable to have Ryan on the brain this week.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 10, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Rolen wins at 3rd base. Ack!

Posted by: gonatsgo1 | November 10, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

The winners:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/10/AR2010111004946.html

Posted by: gonatsgo1 | November 10, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Great analysis, Sheinin. NOT. You managed to not even include the eventual winner in your story. WTF?

Posted by: berou | November 10, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

2010 National League Gold Gloves

P Bronson Arroyo (CIN-1st)
C Yadier Molina (STL-3rd)
1B Albert Pujols (STL-2nd)
2B Brandon Phillips (CIN-2nd)
3B Scott Rolen (CIN-8th)
SS Troy Tulowitzki (COL-1st)
OF Michael Bourn (HOU-2nd)
OF Carlos Gonzalez (COL-1st)
OF Shane Victorino (PHI-3rd)


Posted by: gonatsgo1 | November 10, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

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