I was recently watching a White Sox game on ESPN and the announcers were trying to make a case for Joe Crede to unseat Eric Chavez from his five-year reign as AL hot corner gold glover.
Boston Red Sox fans are also being their boisterous selves in claiming that Mike Lowell should win the gold glove. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat even wrote a story about Crede and Lowell creeping up on Chavez.
But I can tell you after watching Chavez this year, he has never been better defensively. He's made a highlight reel of plays this season that could fill up the BBTN Web gem archives for years to come. You can say all you want about him being unclutch offensively (ahem, yesterday, ahem) but his defense has only gotten better even through the injuries. Billy Beane calls him the best defensive third baseman ever. I don't know if I would put him in that class yet, but he's getting there.
Now this isn't anything again Lowell or Crede. Both are fine defensive players, but Chavez has just been off the charts this season. The problem is that I just don't trust any of the defensive statistics out there. You can look at fielding percentage, but I don't think that accounts for range. This is where the stastical analyis kind of fails us, I believe. Because there isn't accounting for the kind of play he makes when a laser beam is hit to his backhand side and he stabs it to turn a double into an inning-ending double play. So when you see something like this on Beyond the Boxscore that ranks Chavez 21st in the majors behind Vinny Castilla, Hank Blalock and Troy Glaus (all of people) you just have to think that the stat guys just haven't figured out how to accurately measure defense yet.
Until then, I'm going to rely on people who probably have a better system than anything available to the public. People like Beane. Chavez golden again? I can't see it any other way.