Yadi nets Gold Glove for eighth straight year; Kiermaier a first-time winner
By Doug Miller
It's November, right after the World Series. In baseball, that means it's the season when leather comes back in style.
The best defensive players in the Major Leagues were honored on Tuesday night, and the list of winners of the prestigious Rawlings Gold Glove Awards for 2015 included familiar names and first-time honorees that figure to be honored again in years to come.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina kept his Gold Glove billing as the man on the marquee by winning his eighth consecutive National League Gold Glove, beating out San Francisco's Buster Posey and Washington's Wilson Ramos.
Both leagues' honorees featured a who's-who of repeat winners.
In the NL, honorees included Cardinals right fielder Jason Heyward, who won last year with the Braves and has now won the award in three of the past four seasons. Heyward beat out Nationals phenom Bryce Harper and Mets sparkplug Curtis Granderson.
One of the NL's repeat winners came from the Dodgers, who seized their third consecutive NL West title. Los Angeles right-hander Zack Greinke, a leading contender for his league's Cy Young Award, won the Gold Glove for pitcher over Jake Arrieta of the Cubs and Gerrit Cole of the Pirates.
Elsewhere in the NL, some notable win streaks were snapped.
At second base, the NL batting title winner proved he can play some D, too. Miami's Dee Gordon took the honors for the first time, beating out last year's winner, Colorado's DJ LeMahieu, as well as Brandon Phillips of the Reds.
"It turned out to be the best thing for me," Gordon said of last offseason's trade that brought him to Miami, "because I got with a coach [Perry Hill] who has taken my game to the next level."
And D-backs center fielder A.J. Pollock won his first Gold Glove, beating out Pirates superstar Andrew McCutchen and Billy Hamilton of the Reds to continue a resurgence in the desert that is partially based on catching the ball.
"From Day 1, I think we created this culture where everyone understands how important defense is," Pollock said. "Everyone's bought into it. It's been exciting. It's been a really fun group to be a part of, and I think we've got a good foundation moving forward."
Since 2013, Gold Glove voting has consisted of two components: 75 percent of the vote comes from managers and coaches, and 25 percent comes from statistical analysis in collaboration with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
In the AL, the newly crowned champs had another banner day.
The Royals boasted repeat winners in Hosmer and Perez, with each being honored for a third straight time. They also featured a first-time winner in Escobar.
But injuries hurt Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon, who lost out to former Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes, who was traded to the Mets and spurred that club's run to the World Series, won his first Gold Glove, also beating out finalist Brett Gardner of the Yankees.
In center field, Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays beat a tough field of finalists that included Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays and Mike Trout of the Angels. Among other new metrics, he led all of baseball with 42 defensive runs saved, the highest such number since that advanced statistic started being recorded.
"I just try to go out there and … make plays for my pitchers and my team each and every day," Kiermaier said. "I think the numbers will take care of themselves at the end of the year."
"I'm extremely proud because I take pride in my defensive ability," Keuchel said. "I'm an extreme competitor, and if the ball gets by me … inside I'm pretty heated. … Whatever I can do to possibly get an out and shorten the game, I'm going to do it."
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado proved that he was all the way back from knee problems not only with a strong offensive campaign but with his first Gold Glove since 2013. Machado topped finalists Adrian Beltre of the Rangers and Evan Longoria of the Rays.
There was a changing of the Gold Glove guard at several positions in the AL, however.
In addition to Escobar winning for the first time, Jose Altuve of the Astros garnered his first Gold Glove by winning over Ian Kinsler of the Tigers and Brian Dozier of the Twins.
Next we'll see who wins the Platinum Glove Awards, which give fans a chance to have their voices heard in the selection of both leagues' best overall defensive players, which will be announced on Friday night. Last year's Platinum winners were Molina in the NL and Gordon in the AL.