Three Yankees — Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Brett Gardner — were finalists for Gold Gloves this year, but none were among the winners announced last night. Teixeira lost to Adrian Gonzalez, and Cano lost to Dustin Pedroia, but it's Gardner's loss to Alex Gordon that comes as a real surprise. Gardner's reputation as a fielder is superb, and in this case, both stat-heads and stat-haters generally agree on Gardner's defensive ability.
Via ESPN, Gardner led American League left-fielders in both UZR and defensive runs saved last season. (Looking at a player's UZR over the course of just one season might not be a perfect method, but Gardner had the highest UZR in all of baseball in 2011. And he was tied with two others for the most defensive runs saved in all of baseball.) He also led left fielders in "good fielding plays," a stat tracked by Baseball Info Solutions, which counts catches on balls that were more likely to be a hit than an out. (ESPN.com, always up for a little synergy, likens them to Web Gem nominees.) Gordon's twenty assists did lead the league (and did set a Royals club record), but there's otherwise a mountain of data in Gardner's favor.
For the record, Gardner won the Fielding Bible Award for left fielders this year. That award is voted on by a ten-person panel of experts, including Bill James, Peter Gammons, and Joe Posnanski. And he was an almost unanimous selection, receiving nine first place votes and one second place vote. (Gardner was lauded for his impressive number of runs saved for a left-fielder, his center-fielder's range, and his "excellent throwing arm.")
We kind of assume this is some sort of karmic payback from the baseball gods for Derek Jeter's inexplicable win last year. And look, the Gold Glove can often be something of a joke — remember when Rafael Palmeiro won the award in 1999 despite playing in just 28 games at first base? — but what are baseball awards if not something to argue about once the season is over?