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Ask Sports: Why wasn’t Lorenzo Cain a finalist for the Gold Glove?

Kansas City Royals’ Lorenzo Cain makes a diving catch on a ball hit by San Francisco Giants’ Travis Ishikawa during the second inning of Game 3 of the World Series on Friday in San Francisco. (Oct. 24, 2014)
Kansas City Royals’ Lorenzo Cain makes a diving catch on a ball hit by San Francisco Giants’ Travis Ishikawa during the second inning of Game 3 of the World Series on Friday in San Francisco. (Oct. 24, 2014) Associated Press

Why wasn’t Lorenzo Cain a finalist for the Gold Glove?

Cain, the MVP of the American League Championship Series, has been dazzling observers with his excellent defense this postseason.

But when the three nominees for AL center fielders were announced this week, Cain's name was not on the list. The finalists were Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr., Chicago's Adam Eaton and Baltimore's Adam Jones.

How could that be, much of the baseball world asked?

The problem comes in the changes to the Gold Glove rules instituted in 2011.

Prior to that year, outfield Gold Gloves were given to three players, regardless of specific position. The result was most of the award winners would be center fielders. In trying to recognize that the defensive work done by left fielders was inherantly different than that of center fielders, Gold Gloves are now given to LF, CF and RF.

With that change came requirements for eligibility. CBSSports.com reported the new rules in 2011:

▪ All infielders and position-specific outfielders must also have played in the field for at least 525 innings in those minimum 70 games;

▪ All infielders and position-specific outfielders must also have played in the field for at least 525 innings in those minimum 70 games;

▪ Players who rove around the outfield will qualify at the specific outfield position where he played the most innings provided it was a minimum of 75 percent (475 innings) of total innings at the specific position.

Here's where Cain gets in trouble. He easily played in 55 percent of his team's games (133 of 162), but that was split between center field and right field.

He played 93 games in center and 77 in right – often switching within a game.

He recorded 723 1/3 innings in center and 388 1/3 innings in right – or roughly 65 percent of his defensive action was in center, missing the 75-percent threshold.

Jarrod Dyson, who appeared in 108 games, played all but 13 of his 691 1/3 innings in center. That made Dyson eligible for a CF Gold Glove, but not Cain, despite Cain actually playing more innings in the position.

The Royals were still well represented on the list, however, which is selected by managers, coaches with some statistical input.

Previous winners Alex Gordon (3 wins), Eric Hosmer (1), and Salvador Perez (1) are nominated along with Alcides Escobar.

Royals fans shouldn't get too upset, though. The Gold Gloves have had many head-scratchers in the past, as popularity and reputation seem to dictate winners – as does the offensive skill of the player, for some reason.

The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera is a first-base nominee this year. That might sum up the quality of the award.

Joshua Wood

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