In an embarrassing moment for Major League Baseball, San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado was not named as an NL Gold Glove finalist on Thursday.
The baseball community spoke out almost immediately as several national media members voiced their displeasure with this choice. Scott Miller of the New York Times and a veteran media member called the decision “utterly ridiculous.” Bob Nightengale of USA Today sports called the choice “absurd” to leave Machado off the finalist list. Miller, in particular, has seen Machado plenty of times as he resides in San Diego.
Nolan Arenado has won nine straight Gold Gloves since the 2013 season. He will likely win it again this year, but not having Machado as a finalist is surprising, to say the least. It honestly felt like a given that the Padres’ third baseman would be recognized.
Manny Machado is a rock at third base, and he plays the position with the seemingly flawless ease of a painter constructing a masterpiece. The 30-year-old is smooth and durable. He is everything you want from a player in the hot corner and is enjoying an excellent offense year in which he will garner MVP votes.
Looking at the numbers, Machado should have easily been a finalist over McMahon. Hayes put up great numbers and actually makes a case for himself as the winner over Arenado. McMahon led all third basemen with 17 errors and was seventh in fielding percentage with a .953 mark. Machado committed 11 errors and finished third in fielding percentage with a .966 average. Hayes (.972) and Arenado (.968) were first and second in the National League.
Fielding percentage is not the sole thing looked at while deducing who is the best defender. The modern game of baseball uses analytics, and that is where it seems Machado lost his ability to be recognized in the top three. Machado’s UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) and DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) are below average. In fact, they are some of the worst in the league. According to baseball metrics, Machado was a -0.8 defender in 2023 in UZR, meaning that his range was horrible.
What? His range? Upon witnessing 80-90 percent of the innings amassed by Machado this 2022 season, I can honestly say his range was easily above average. This is head-scratching. Plus, he played half the season with a bum ankle and still managed to play elite defense. It seems like he was punished for playing hurt.
Here is the technical explanation of how UZR is calculated and measured. “UZR quantifies a player’s entire defensive performance by attempting to measure how many runs a defender saved. It takes into account errors, range, outfield arm, and double-play ability. It differs slightly from DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in its formula, but the concept is the same.”
Machado has fewer errors than his counterparts, shows excellent range and a rocket arm, but his numbers are below league average? This metric attempts to convince you that the San Diego Padres were worse defensively than average by having Manny Machado man the hot corner. That statement in itself speaks volumes to whether you should take this measure of value with any seriousness.
Defensive metrics are a debatable topic. That is for sure. Let’s take a look at DRS, which is comparable to UZR. Machado’s DRS rating was a -3 (according to FanGraphs). Ke’Bran Hayes put up a 24. By this metric, the Pirates’ third baseman saved 27 more runs than Machado during the season. That seems inconceivable if you watched Machado play at all. And again, his value is deemed less than the league average, which is an outrage.
Defensive metrics must have played in the decision to keep Machado off the list. But why? Major League coaches vote for the finalist. They likely did not use these metrics to make up their minds. It is no secret that Machado rubs other teams the wrong way. Did coaches blacklist him for this?
From the carefree way he plays the game to his “edge’ that angers other teams, Machado is easily one of the biggest villains in the game. His checkered past and the enthusiasm of his youth labeled the Padres’ third baseman as a bad person. He is having trouble getting out of the stigma attached to his name.
Punishing a player for playing the game with an edge seems clearly wrong. Especially if they were young and have shown great maturity since then. Machado is no longer a young punk kid. He is a veteran leader. A player who has a passion for the game and loves baseball. He should not be vilified.
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Not every player can be a poster boy. Not every player is a golden child. The game of baseball is made up of individuals, just like society. When you present an award to praise the best defensive player at a position, it should be without bias. Personal feelings and grudges should not have anything to do with it. If Major League coaches cannot honor players justly, then perhaps their opinions should not be the only determining factor. End the madness, MLB. The game is evolving. Grow with these changes and continue to protect the integrity of the sport.
If you want Gold Gloves to be taken seriously, award them to players who truly deserve them. Manny Machado is a Gold Glove defender. End of story.
James was born and raised in America’s Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that’s our motto. Enjoy.