Elite defenders honored with Gold Gloves

Arenado, Heyward, Gordon win for fifth time

Elite defenders honored with Gold Gloves

In today's game of baseball, statistics point increasingly toward the need for airtight defense to supplement good arms and thump at the plate.

In other words, run prevention is not going out of style any time soon. On Tuesday the best defensive players in the sport received some precious metal accessories to pair with their already fashionable leather -- the prestigious Rawlings Gold Glove Awards.

This year's honorees include the usual class of elite defenders we expect to haul in hardware this time of year, plus a few newcomers who jumped up and claimed their prizes for the first time.

Dominance at certain positions continued, with Nolan Arenado of the Rockies claiming his fifth straight Gold Glove and Alex Gordon of the Royals and Jason Heyward of the Cubs also winning for the fifth time.

The biggest surprises came at catcher, with two first-time winners unseating big names. Tucker Barnhart of the Reds and Martin Maldonado of the Angels pulled monster upsets for the hardware.

"It feels great," said Arenado, who has now won a Gold Glove in each of his Major League seasons. "Obviously, five is a pretty special number. Thank God I've been able to stay healthy and compete out there and do my job to help my team win. It means a lot.

Arenado's tough stop

"I want to try and win as many as I can and stay healthy."

Complete awards coverage

This year's Gold Gloves represented a lot of teams, with only five -- the Rockies, D-backs, Twins, Angels and Royals, who each won two -- claiming more than one.

The Gold Gloves were decided by Major League managers and coaches, who voted only within their league and were unable to vote for players on their own teams. They accounted for 75 percent of the selection process, while the sabermetrics community accounted for the other 25 percent.

In the National League, the Gold Glove for first base went to Paul Goldschmidt of the D-backs, marking the third such award for the slugger and MVP candidate. Goldschmidt became the first Arizona player to win three Gold Gloves, and he did it by topping Joey Votto of the Reds and last year's winner, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Past Gold Glove Award winners: American League | National League

Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu came through with his second Gold Glove and first since 2014. He beat out Dee Gordon of the Marlins and Ben Zobrist of the Cubs by leading all NL second basemen in total chances (729), assists (470), double plays (107), fielding percentage (.989), defensive WAR (1.2) and range factor per game (4.71) while ranking third in zone rating (.801).

Shortstop was a contentious affair in the NL, with Brandon Crawford of the Giants winning his third straight Gold Glove over Freddy Galvis of the Phillies and Corey Seager of the Dodgers. Crawford became the first NL shortstop to win three consecutive Gold Gloves since Jimmy Rollins.

Arenado did his thing once again at third base, coming out ahead of Anthony Rendon of the Nationals and David Freese of the Pirates to become the first NL third baseman to win five straight Gold Gloves since Scott Rolen (2000-04). Arenado led all NL third basemen in total chances (423), assists (311), double plays (39), defensive WAR (2.3) and range factor per game (2.64).

Heyward won his fifth Gold Glove (fourth consecutive) for right field in the NL, beating out Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins after a season in which Statcast™ had him at 11 outs above average, which tied for seventh among all outfielders in 2017, while ranking second for a corner outfielder, behind Mookie Betts' 16. Heyward also was one of nine outfielders -- and three corner outfielders -- to convert at least four five-star opportunities, and his 16 catches of four stars or better tied for fourth in MLB.

Heyward's running grab

Ender Inciarte of the Braves won his second consecutive Gold Glove for NL center fielders, beating out Billy Hamilton of the Reds and Michael A. Taylor of the Nationals. According to Statcast™, Inciarte was 19 outs above average in 2017, which meant he trailed only Byron Buxton. Inciarte's seven five-star catches gave him two more than any other outfielder. He tied for second in MLB in both catches of four stars or better (24) and catches of three stars or better (51).

In left field in the NL, Marcell Ozuna of the Marlins claimed his first Gold Glove, besting Gerardo Parra of the Rockies and Adam Duvall of the Reds.

And behind the plate, Barnhart pulled off the stunner, taking down Yadier Molina of the Cardinals and last year's winner, Buster Posey. Barnhart threw out 44 percent of runners attempting to steal and posted a pop time of 2.01 seconds throwing to second base, according to Statcast™. He also led the NL with 661 blocked pitches and committed one error in 926 1/3 innings. He became the first Reds catcher to win a Gold Glove since Hall of Famer Johnny Bench in 1977.

"It's as good as it gets for me," Barnhart said. "I'm a defense-first player, I take a lot of pride in that, and to be able to win it and beat out guys like Buster and Yadi, it's incredibly special and something I'll remember for the rest of my life."

Zack Greinke of the D-backs continued his recent run of domination at pitcher in the NL, beating out R.A. Dickey of the Braves and Zach Davies of the Brewers to become the first hurler since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux to win four straight Gold Gloves.

In the American League, Eric Hosmer reclaimed the Gold Glove at first base after missing out last year, beating the 2016 winner, Mitch Moreland of the Red Sox, and Carlos Santana of the Indians in the process. Hosmer played in all 162 games for the first time in his career and led AL first basemen in innings (1338.0) and total chances (1314), while finishing second in putouts (1314).

2017 AL Gold Glove winners

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier won his first Gold Glove, getting the nod over Red Sox veteran Dustin Pedroia and last year's winner, Ian Kinsler of the Tigers. Dozier committed only five errors in 674 total chances in 2017.

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons of the Angels won his first Gold Glove as a member of the AL after winning two with the Braves in the NL. Simmons led the Majors with 32 defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs, and ranked second in the Majors with a 15.5 Ultimate Zone Rating. Simmons is just the third shortstop to win the award in both leagues, joining Omar Vizquel (1993-01 in the AL and 2005-06 in the NL) and Orlando Cabrera (2001 in the NL and 2007 in the NL).

Simmons' diving stop on Gomes

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria also returned to the Gold Glove limelight, taking the honor for the third time in his career but for the first time since 2010. Longoria ranked second among AL third basemen with 11 Defensive Runs Saved, according to FanGraphs.

"The Gold Glove is one of the awards when I first started playing that I always wanted to win, so to win a third one is really cool," Longoria said. "I definitely take pride in my defense. ... It feels good to win it, and it feels good to win it in front of some really good players and some guys who put together good years."

Gordon's excellence in left field is no secret, and in winning his first Gold Glove since 2014, he beat out a tough field that included last year's winner, Brett Gardner of the Yankees, and Angels left fielder Justin Upton.

Twins center fielder Byron Buxton burst onto the AL Gold Glove scene by claiming his first such honor, topping Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays and Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain. A good reason why: Buxton led all MLB outfielders in 2017 with 25 outs above average, six more than second-place finisher Inciarte. Although Statcast™ determined that an average outfielder would have caught 86 percent of the fly balls hit toward Buxton this year, he actually caught 92 percent. In addition, Buxton hauled in an MLB-high 29 catches that Statcast™ rated as four or five stars. His 92.9 percent success rate on his 28 four-star chances was the highest for any outfielder with more than six.

"This is a special moment, not just for me but my teammates and family and the support system behind me to go out there every day and play a game I love and do the things I do," Buxton said. "Defense is very important and you want to be the best you can."

The AL Gold Glove for right field belongs to Betts for the second consecutive year. Betts had 31 defensive runs saved, the most among all outfielders, and that led to him beating out Yankees rookie Aaron Judge and 2015 winner Kole Calhoun of the Angels. Betts' 16 outs above average in 2017 tied for third among all MLB outfielders but first among corner outfielders. Heyward's 11 OAA was the second-highest total for anyone who spent the majority of their time in a corner spot. In addition, Betts ranked second to Buxton with 22 four-star catches while leading the Majors with 31 grabs rated as three stars. Combine all his catches of three stars or better, and his total of 55 also ranked first in MLB, ahead of Buxton (51).

Betts' stellar day in the field

Maldonado pulled off the upset at catcher, beating four-time winner Salvador Perez of the Royals and Indians backstop Yan Gomes. Maldonado led all AL catchers with 22 defensive runs saved.

And at pitcher, charismatic Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman took home an AL Gold Glove for the first time. Stroman led all pitchers with 37 assists and topped Rays righty Alex Cobb and Red Sox southpaw Chris Sale for the honor.

"This is honestly one of the awards I always wanted to win," Stroman said. "It attests to all the work I put in on the field with Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Goins daily. I'm excited. This is huge for me. This award is a big testament to them as much as me."

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. The voting will conclude on Thursday night, and the winners will be announced during Friday night's Gold Glove ceremony. Last year's Platinum Glove winners were Rizzo in the NL and Francisco Lindor in the AL.

National League
C: Tucker Barnhart, Reds (1st Gold Glove)
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs (3rd Gold Glove)
2B: DJ LeMahieu, Rockies (2nd Gold Glove)
3B: Nolan Arenado, Rockies (5th Gold Glove)
SS: Brandon Crawford, Giants (3rd Gold Glove)
LF: Marcell Ozuna, Marlins (1st Gold Glove)
CF: Ender Inciarte, Braves (2nd Gold Glove)
RF: Jason Heyward, Cubs (5th Gold Glove)
P: Zack Greinke, D-backs (4th Gold Glove)

American League
C: Martin Maldonado, Angels (1st Gold Glove)
1B: Eric Hosmer, Royals (4th Gold Glove)
2B: Brian Dozier, Twins (1st Gold Glove)
3B: Evan Longoria, Rays (3rd Gold Glove)
SS: Andrelton Simmons, Angels (3rd Gold Glove)
LF: Alex Gordon, Royals (5th Gold Glove)
CF: Byron Buxton, Twins (1st Gold Glove)
RF: Mookie Betts, Red Sox (2nd Gold Glove)
P: Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays (1st Gold Glove)

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.