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The American League Golden Glove Award was handed out on Tuesday for the top-fielding player of each position based on how well each player performed throughout the year. Atop the list were Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees. Jeter won his fourth at shortstop while Teixeira won his third at first base. Also winning were Torii Hunter and Ichiro Suzuki for the ninth year in a row respectively. Evan Longoria, Adam Jones and Mark Buehrle all won their first awards while Joe Mauer and Placido Polanco both won their second.
There was one name that should have been on that list, but was not: Kevin Youkilis.
The vote looks better now that Teixeira and his team won the World Series and the Red Sox were eliminated in the first round, but let’s be honest: no one plays first base as hard as Youkilis. I know that Teixeira only committed four errors on the year for a .997 fielding percentage. But, Youkilis had just one error at first base all season, posting a .998 percentage. The Yankees first baseman also turned 110 double-plays, while Youk only had 56 while at first. One stat that could’ve won the award for Teixeira is the number of putouts he had, as he finished with 1,222 putouts compared to Youkilis’s 565 at first base. But, Youk also had 52 while playing third base and three while in left field. Therein lies the problem: Youk didn’t play full-time at first base.
Youkilis played 78 games at first base, starting 77, but played 63 at third and two in left. The majority of his playing time was at first, especially before Victor Martinez was traded to the Sox at the end of July. If he lost the chance for a Gold Glove because he spilt time at third, then that is entirely unfair.
Looking back at the history of Gold Glove Award, Rafael Palmeiro won the award in 1999 for first base after only playing 28 games at the position (he played 135 games as a DH that season). Sure, there was controversy over whether or not that was valid but he kept the award after hardly playing the position.
So, why can’t Youkilis win the award for first base when Palmeiro won after 28 games and Youkilis played 78? I really do not know. Do I personally think Youkilis is a better fielder than Teixeira? Yes I do. Do I think Teixeira is a bad fielder? Not at all. I just think that Youkilis should’ve had a shot at the award or maybe tied him at least. Youkilis has had some amazing plays in the field and is nearly flawless at first. Now, throw him at third and you get a very solid fielder as well who only committed four errors at the hot spot of the field compared to Mike Lowell’s nine errors on the year.
Teixeira won the award this year and that should only help Youkilis want to win it even more in 2010, and he should have a good chance. Maybe next year Youk, maybe next year. Only next season, he might get it for third base instead of first.