PITTSBURGH -- All season, Pirates left fielder Starling Marte punished opposing players who hit the ball in his general direction or dared to take an extra base on his rocket right arm. Now, Marte has a chance to solidify his elite defensive status with a piece of hardware.
Marte is one of the Pirates' three finalists for a Rawlings Gold Glove Award, joining center fielder Andrew McCutchen and right-hander Gerrit Cole on the list of finalists announced Thursday afternoon.
Marte would appear to be the Bucs' most likely winner come Nov. 10, when the Gold Glove Awards are officially handed out at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The 27-year-old finished third among all Major League players with 24 defensive runs saved, behind only Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (42) and Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (25).
Marte led all National League outfielders with 16 assists, finishing one behind White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia for the Majors' highest total.
Marte is up against the Padres' Justin Upton and the Marlins' Christian Yelich. Marte finished the season with a .995 fielding percentage in left field, committing only one error while playing 1,186 1/3 innings at the position. Yelich finished second among NL left fielders with 13 defensive runs saved, while Upton was sixth with eight runs saved.
Cole is obviously better known for his lights-out pitching than his defense, but he was among the statistical leaders at his position. The 25-year-old right-hander finished the year with six defensive runs saved, tied for second in the NL with fellow finalist Jake Arrieta. Only the Dodgers' Zack Greinke, the third finalist, finished with more (nine).
Cole put together a perfect fielding percentage, successfully converting each of his 47 chances in the field with 10 putouts and 37 assists.
McCutchen has a strong reputation, with a 2012 Gold Glove Award already in his trophy case. He played more innings in center field (1,374 2/3) than either of the other two finalists, the D-backs' A.J. Pollock (1,303 2/3) and the Reds' Billy Hamilton (975 2/3), and he finished the year with a .994 fielding percentage, committing two errors.
But McCutchen cost the Pirates eight runs, according to the defensive runs saved statistic. Pollock led the pack with 14 runs saved, while Hamilton recorded eight and led all qualifiers with a 14.5 Ultimate Zone Rating.
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.