Based on the seemingly endless string of flashy plays Danny Espinosa made at second base in 2011, Nationals fans were hoping - expecting? - to be tuning into ESPN2 tonight at 10 p.m. to see if Espinosa would be recognized with a Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
This programming note, with a hint of disappointment: Other 10 p.m. viewing options include local news on FOX, "Body of Proof" on ABC, "Parenthood" on NBC and "Unforgettable" on CBS.
Despite all the leather he flashed last season, Washington's rookie second baseman wasn't among the three nominees announced yesterday in preparation for the first live national TV unveiling of the coveted award for fielding prowess.
The three National League finalists were Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips, Florida's Omar Infante and Pittsburgh's Neil Walker.
There's a certain amount of angst in NatsTown this morning - some of it legit, some of it not - over the omission of Espinosa from the list of finalists. But a quick look at the numbers might prove the managers and coaches in each league who choose the winner correct.
Phillips, who is trying for his third Gold Glove in four years, and Walker tied for the fewest errors among National League second basemen with six each and have identical .992 fielding percentages. Infante's fielding percentage was .989. Espinosa committed 14 errors and had a fielding percentage of .982. It might be worth noting that the leader in fielding percentage for the NL, San Diego's Orlando Hudson and his .993 mark, didn't even make the cut.
If you're one of those folks who puts weight into some of the advanced metrics that measure fielding, the zone rating and range factor statistics are a mixed bag when it comes to the finalists - and the non-finalist from the nation's capital.
Phillips had a 5.16 zone rating that was good for only fourth-best in the NL behind Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks, Arizona's Kelly Johnson and Atlanta's Dan Uggla. Espinosa's 5.05 mark ranked sixth, while Walker (5.98) and Infante (4.96) were seventh and eighth, respectively.
The range factor metric had Hudson (5.12) first, followed by Infante (5.09), Walker (5.05) and Espinosa (4.97). Phillips was sixth with a 4.86 rating.
Statistics, as an old friend once told me, can be made to do anything you want them to do with enough cajoling. These are by no means the only ways to measure fielding acumen, and there are certainly more advanced metrics available, depending on how much time and effort you want to put into an analysis.
Was Espinosa snubbed? Probably not. Unfortunately, the Gold Glove is one of those awards that's more of a popularity contest based on past performance and pecking order. In other words, a good glove man with a strong defensive reputation can stay in contention among his league's managers and coaches because they remember him at his best. Younger players, like the 24-year-old Espinosa, are merely making their mark in their early years in the league. A few more years of stellar defense, another top defensive player traded to the American League, and Espinosa might be in the conversation.
It's worth noting that this year's finalists include a perennial contender in Phillips and two newcomers. Walker was no doubt helped out by his club's resurgence and Infante, a utility man who made the All-Star team in 2010 as an Atlanta Brave (and caused much consternation among traditionalists because he didn't play one position) was in his first season primarily as a second baseman.
Espinosa's time will come. It's just not here yet.
Follow Pete Kerzel on Twitter: @kerzelpete