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Brian Jordan: The Gold Gloves' biggest snub?

Posted by John Autin
Since 1961, here are the outfield leaders in WAR Runs-Fielding:

RkPlayerRfieldFromToAgeGPosTm
1Andruw Jones2431996201119-342102*89/D73ATL-LAD-TEX-CHW-NYY
2Barry Bonds1911986200721-422986*78/D9PIT-SFG
3Carl Yastrzemski1831961198321-433308*73D8/59BOS
4Paul Blair1741964198020-361947*8/974D56BAL-NYY-TOT
5Brian Jordan1621992200625-391456*978/D35STL-ATL-LAD-TEX
6Jesse Barfield1611981199221-321428*9/8D7TOR-TOT-NYY
7Darin Erstad1431996200922-351654387/D9CAL-ANA-LAA-CHW-HOU
8Devon White1351985200122-381941*89/7DCAL-TOR-FLA-ARI-LAD-MIL
9Roberto Clemente1321961197226-371662*9/8PIT
10Ichiro Suzuki1222001201127-371749*98/DSEA
11Kenny Lofton1081991200724-402103*8/7D9HOU-CLE-ATL-TOT-NYY-PHI-LAD
12Willie Wilson1081976199420-382154*87/9DKCR-OAK-CHC
13Sammy Sosa1041989200720-382354*98D/7TOT-CHW-CHC-BAL-TEX
14Garry Maddox1011972198622-361749*8/79SFG-TOT-PHI
15Willie Davis1011961197921-392407*8/97DLAD-MON-TOT-SDP-CAL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/15/2011.

(If we credited full career stats for those above who also played before 1961, Clemente would move up to #2 with 204 runs. Willie Davis would improve only slightly, to 104 runs.)

All but two of these players won at least one Gold Glove Award, and all but three were multiple winners. The two who never won a Gold Glove were:

-- Sammy Sosa, who had outstanding defensive stats in his 20s. For the 5 years 1993-97, Sosa led all MLB outfielders in dWAR, and by a hefty margin, 99 runs for Sosa, 80 for #2 man Griffey; and

-- Brian Jordan, one of the most under-recognized fielding wizards of our time. For the 7 years 1995-2001, Jordan ranked just below Andruw Jones in defensive value, and miles above all other OFs:

RkPlayerRfieldFromToAgeGPosTm
1Andruw Jones1511996200119-24827*89/7ATL
2Brian Jordan1381995200128-34902*9/8D35STL-ATL
3Darin Erstad781996200122-27785378/D9CAL-ANA
4Mike Cameron721995200122-28747*8/9D7CHW-CIN-SEA
5Sammy Sosa691995200126-321067*9/8CHC
6Kenny Lofton651995200128-34938*8/DCLE-ATL
7Mark Kotsay591997200121-25587*98/37FLA-SDP
8Luis Gonzalez581995200127-331062*7/D83TOT-CHC-HOU-DET-ARI
9Darren Lewis561995200127-33849*89/7DTOT-CHW-BOS
10Bobby Abreu541996200122-27693*9/7D8HOU-PHI
11B.J. Surhoff541995200130-361019*75/3D298MIL-BAL-TOT-ATL
12Doug Glanville501996200125-30810*87/9CHC-PHI
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/15/2011.

BTW, Jones and Jordan also ranked #1-2 in overall fielding runs in this period, regardless of position.

Since 1954, Jones and Jordan are the only OFs with at least 138 fielding runs in a 7-year span. Jones has the highest 7-year total with 189 runs from 1997-2003.

If there were such a thing as dWAR Awards, Jordan would have won 5 of them in that period, ranking among the NL's top 3 OFs in dWAR in 1995-96, '98, and 2000-01. In that 7-year period, Jordan never tallied less than 12 fielding runs (or 1.2 dWAR), despite missing most of the '97 season. In 5 of those 7 years, he ranked in the NL's top 3 for dWAR at any position.

Finally, here are the 34 players since 1961 with at least 110 fielding runs. All but 4 won a Gold Glove, and all but 5 were multiple winners. Jordan has the most fielding runs of any non-GG winner:
PlayerRfield*Gold Gloves*
Brooks Robinson25616
Andruw Jones24310
Mark Belanger2408
Ozzie Smith23913
Barry Bonds1918
Carl Yastrzemski1837
Cal Ripken1792
Buddy Bell1746
Paul Blair1748
Ivan Rodriguez16613
Robin Ventura1636
Brian Jordan162--
Jesse Barfield1612
Scott Rolen1478
Darin Erstad1433
Graig Nettles1412
Clete Boyer1411
Rey Sanchez139--
Devon White1357
Roberto Clemente13212
Omar Vizquel13111
Craig Counsell130--
Mike Schmidt12810
Gary Gaetti1274
Ichiro Suzuki12210
Frank White1218
Placido Polanco1193
Keith Hernandez11711
Adrian Beltre1153
Albert Pujols1152
Willie Randolph114--
Jim Sundberg1146
Gary Carter1123
Bill Mazeroski1108

*Runs are from 1961 onward; Gold Gloves are career total.

So how did Jordan miss out on the hardware? I won't dwell on the matter, since Gold Glove voting has always been rather capricious. It's true that Jordan never had the kind of eye-popping defensive counting stats that often draw Gold Glove notice; he never had an errorless season (though he had just 20 errors combined in that 7-year span), and his high in assists was 11. But his range factors were always outstanding; he led NL right fielders in RF/9 three times from 1995-2001.

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