12 Aug

glove is all around

Another day, another amazing catch by Cincinnati center fielder Billy Hamilton. The former Taylorsville High star made a long run and a leaping catch just in front of the wall to rob an Arizona batter of an extra-base hit on Saturday. Not close to his best — but amazing just the same. It’s equally amazing that Hamilton has never won a Gold Glove. Perhaps this, his fifth full season in the majors, will be the year. Gold Glove selections can be a little confusing. (Rafael Palmeiro won one in a year when he rarely played in the field.) Jackson native Chet Lemon was one of the best center fielders of his era. In four different seasons he made more than 400 putouts, including an American League record 512 in 1977. And yet, he couldn’t snag a Gold Glove. Fulton’s Brian Dozier does have a Gold Glove, just one, which he won last year with Minnesota. Dozier, a second baseman known for his power, is an underrated defensive player, a point that was underscored by a play he made on Saturday for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He dove to his right to spear a hard-hit grounder and, while flat on the dirt, flipped the ball with his glove hand to second base to start a double play. Amazing. Dozier was primarily a second baseman at Southern Miss, but Minnesota drafted him as a shortstop and played him there all through the minors. He got a brief trial at that position in his rookie MLB season of 2012 but was converted back to second base that off-season. Smart move. Dozier may have more Gold Gloves in his future, though he has a ways to go to match Frank White, the Greenville native who won eight during his star-studded career as the Kansas City Royals’ second baseman. Monstrous home runs and 100-mph pitches get so much attention these days, but defense still matters. A first baseman who makes all the plays, like Amory’s Mitch Moreland (Gold Glove, 2016), is vital to winning games. Moreland’s defense is one of the main reasons he wrested the first-base job from Hanley Ramirez in Boston this season. Great plays, like the ones Hamilton and Dozier made on Saturday, can energize a team. Can you imagine an outfield of ex-Magnolia State prep stars Hamilton, JaCoby Jones and Jarrod Dyson? Would any fly ball ever hit the ground? Hunter Renfroe can’t cover ground like those three, but the Crystal Springs native has one of the best outfield arms in the game. He has made throws from right field that bring to mind Dave Parker, the Grenada native with the legendary cannon who won three Gold Gloves in his prime. His throw in the 1979 All-Star Game — look it up — is still talked about. So cheer if you must for bombs and punchouts but don’t forget to give some love to glove.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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