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  • Paul Semendinger

Head-to-Head Nettles or Brooks?

Head-to-Head Nettles or Brooks?

by Paul Semendinger

Originally Published: March 7, 2022

***

Growing up, Graig Nettles was my favorite player. I am also a huge Yankees fan, but I am also an honest baseball historian. When I write articles like this, I don’t know the outcome until I do the research. I then publish my findings whether I am happy or not with what I found.


Going into this exercise, I am hoping to find that Graig Nettles had multiple seasons where he was a better defensive third baseman (as measured by dWAR) than Brooks Robinson.


This was a quick and simple exercise - comparing one fielding metric between two players. I welcome other studies on this topic.


Going into this exercise, my hopes are that I can prove that, as great as he was, Brooks Robinson did not deserve all those Gold Gloves, especially over Graig Nettles. I feel that if Nettles had won a few of these awards, his career would be considered a bit differently and he might have more support to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Nettles’ two Gold Gloves doesn’t seem all that impressive, but if he had a few more…


Let’s take a look:


1970: Brooks Robinson = 0.8 / Graig Nettles = 2.6

Take that Gold Glove and give it to Nettles!


1971: Brooks Robinson = 2.8 / Graig Nettles = 3.9

Take that Gold Glove and give it to Nettles!



1972: Brooks Robinson = 2.6 / Graig Nettles = 1.4

Brooks Robinson keeps his Gold Glove


1973: Brooks Robinson = 2.6 / Graig Nettles = 2.7

Take that Gold Glove and give it to Nettles!


1974: Brooks Robinson = 2.2 / Graig Nettles = 2.0

Brooks Robinson keeps his Gold Glove


1975: Brooks Robinson = 2.5 / Graig Nettles = 1.7

Brooks Robinson keeps his Gold Glove (this was the last one he won)



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Total dWAR 1970-1975

Graig Nettles – 14.4

Brooks Robinson = 13.2


***

In those six seasons, Brooks Robinson won the Gold Glove every single year.


It seems clear that Graig Nettles was, at least, his equal, and in some years, and for the entire period, was a better defensive player (as measured by dWAR) than Brooks Robinson.


If Nettles gets the three Gold Gloves above, he would have had five for his career. He certainly deserved these. No?

***

Notes – There were other excellent third basemen in this era including Aurelio Rodriguez, Buddy Bell, and more. This was not a comparison between Nettles and the rest of the league.


This was strictly comparing the defacto winner year-after-year (Robinson) and drawing a conclusion that he probably won some of those Gold Gloves on reputation rather than merit, and at the expense of a player whose legacy would possibly be regarded differently if he has earned a little more hardware.


Graig Nettles’ career has been vastly underrated and unappreciated.


The more one looks at Graig Nettles’ career, the more it looks like he belongs in the Hall of Fame.


(Again, I didn’t know the results of this before I wrote this piece. I am glad it turned out the way it did.)


#Awards #BrooksRobinson #GoldGlove #GraigNettles

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