Can Adam Everett lead MLB for the fifth straight season?

May 22, 2007
p> Adam Everett is the best shortstop on the planet. Period. But he's never won a Gold Glove Award.

Everett has had the best plus/minus number at shortstop in each of the last four years. And as if to show that it's no fluke, he's leading Major League Baseball again this year. I developed the Plus/Minus System in my book The Fielding Bible about a year ago as a way to measure defensive ability. A number around zero indicates average. If a player is +5, it means he has handled five more plays than could be expected from an average player at his position. A figure of -3, for example, would indicate handling three fewer plays than the average player.

Here are the top shortstops in 2007 thus far:

Adam Everett, Hou +11
Tony Pena, KC +9
John McDonald, Tor +7
Julio Lugo, Bos +5
Troy Tulowitzki, Col +5
J.J. Hardy, Mil +5

Vizquel is at a respectable +2 so far while last year's American League Gold Glover, Derek Jeter, is at -9, second worst in MLB at shortstop to Hanley Ramirez at -10. Jeter continues to post poor plus/minus figures and, while he may be the best overall shortstop in baseball, he is nowhere close to being the best defensive shortstop in the American League despite his two Gold Gloves.

In 2006, Adam Everett had a plus/minus figure of +43, the highest single season total at any position in the four years we've been using this system. In The Bill James Handbook 2007, we began The Fielding Bible Awards. Our panel awarded Everett with the first Fielding Bible Award at shortstop and gave him the highest vote total of any player at any position.

How can it be that Everett has never won a Gold Glove? Part of that answer is that he doesn't hit well enough to get noticed. The other part of the answer is that he plays in the same league as Omar Vizquel. Vizquel has won numerous Gold Gloves and it's easier for the voters to continue to recognize him. Don't get me wrong: Vizquel may be aging a bit but he's still very good. Just not as good as Everett.

Who are the voters? They are MLB managers and coaches. How often do they see Everett? Some of them see him in 15-20 games per year, but most only see him about 6-9 games per year. I'm sure most of them recognize him as a very good shortstop, but they don't see him enough to be able to distinguish his great skills from Vizquel's nearly-as-great skills. That's where the Plus/Minus System comes into play. It clearly shows Everett as the best there is.

 
 

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