BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Kevin Kiermaier made playing the outfield look like a contact sport, repeatedly sacrificing his body for the sake of an out. All the wear and tear was worth it, because on Tuesday night the 25-year-old was the recipient of the 2015 Rawlings American League Gold Glove Award for center fielders.
In his first full Major League season, Kiermaier became the sixth Rays player ever to claim a Gold Glove. A former 31st-round Draft pick in 2010, Kiermaier beat out a strong cast of finalists that included Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays and Mike Trout of the Angels.
"He's a weapon on defense," Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said. "He's a weapon to our pitching staff. He's someone who adds a different level of excitement to the game. He plays with his hair on fire. He makes incredible plays, and he makes some really, really difficult plays look routine."
No matter how you evaluated him, Kiermaier was a deserving winner. He passed the eye test, logging 410 putouts. Advanced metrics also were in his favor. He had an MLB-leading 42 defensive runs saved (DRS) and an Ultimate Zone Rating of 30.0, both tops among center fielders.
"I just go out and try to play," Kiermaier said during the ESPN Rawlings Gold Glove Awards show. "No idea how they calculated [DRS]. No idea what all that stuff means. I just try to go out and make plays for my pitchers."
Longoria was a finalist again at third base, but the award went to Manny Machado of the Orioles.
Rawlings Gold Glove voting consists of two components: 75 percent of the vote comes from managers and coaches, who may not vote for a player on their own team, and 25 percent comes from statistical analysis in collaboration with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). The Platinum Glove winners for the best overall defensive player in each league will be unveiled on Friday following a fan vote.
"I take a lot of pride in my defense," Kiermaier said. "Anyone can come in and catch a fly ball. The [outfielder] who can go back, take his eyes off the ball and then locate it -- those are the guys who separate themselves from others. That's something I do a good job with.
"My arm definitely has been a weapon for me my whole life. That's the goal. I'm just very happy with everything I've been able to accomplish this year as far as defense goes."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.