The finalists for the 2020 Gold Gloves were announced Thursday, and were notably missing the nine-time winner at catcher:
That group in particular is intriguing, as it means Molina — who has won the Platinum Glove Award for top overall defender a record four times — has apparently fallen to not being a top-three catcher in his own division.
That didn’t sit well with Molina, who soon posted this on Instagram:
Respeto a todos los finalistas en la receptoria en la liga nacional 2020! Ahora.... veo una injusticia a los que deciden quien o no... no se si es @mlb o quien sea pero esta claramente que no quieren que este boricua jibarito empate con el gran @johnnybench_5 ... es una pena q me juzguen por no apoyar en nada a la liga y no ser el “puppet” de ellos.. Para mi a mis 38 años sigo siendo el mejor .. preguntele a cada catcher en la mlb y ellos te diran !!!
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A rough translation of Molina’s post:
I respect all the finalists in catching in the 2020 National League!
Now ... I see an injustice to those who decide who or not ...
I do not know if it is MLB or whoever it is but it is clear that they do not want this Puerto Rican jibarito to tie with the great Johnny Bench ... it is a shame that they judge me for not supporting the league at all and not being the "puppet" of them .. For me at 38 years old I'm still the best .. ask every catcher in MLB and they will tell you !!!
Basically, Molina thinks that either MLB or someone else making the decisions is out to prevent a Puerto Rican player from tying Reds great Johnny Bench’s NL-record 10 Gold Gloves at the catching position. Not the MLB record for Gold Gloves at catcher. National League record.
In any other year, that would be a rather silly theory — Bench’s record is more a trivia answer than significant MLB milestone — but it’s outright disprovable this year.
Humans, MLB or other, didn’t pick this year’s Gold Glove finalists
So, prior to 2020, the Gold Gloves were voted on by managers and coaches in each league, with SABR’s Defensive Index factored in since 2013.
Human voting has long been fertile ground for conspiracy theories, so maybe MLB really could have put its finger on the scales to preserve the legacy of the man currently doing Blue Emu commercials (this idea sounds more ridiculous every time you say it out loud).
However, Rawlings made a change this year.
The glove-makers took the human voting out of Gold Glove qualifications and put the entire responsibility on SABR’s stat, citing the compressed nature of the 2020 season. So unless the Society for American Baseball Research deliberately fudged a stat that has been used to help award four of Molina’s nine Gold Gloves, it’s hard to see where these supposed conspirators could even find oxygen.
And there’s also the fact that Ivan Rodriguez is the actual MLB leader in Gold Gloves at catcher with 13. Like Molina, Rodriguez is Puerto Rican.
None of this is to say Molina shouldn’t have been a Gold Glove finalist. He wasn’t alone as an elite defender questioning the group.
Defensive metrics are notoriously unreliable at catcher, a position that has so much to measure (fielding balls, pitch framing, throwing out baserunners). If human voting were used again this year, Molina would probably be a good bet as a finalist. However, maybe it’s not a coincidence that the year in which past success and reputation were stripped out of the process is the same year Molina wasn’t a finalist for the first time in more than a decade?
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