One day after agent Scott Boras said at the General Managers Meetings that Maddux intends to retire, the announcement came Wednesday that the 42-year-old right-hander was again front and center on the National League list of Gold Glovers in 2008.
Maddux has won five Gold Gloves in a row and 18 in a 19-year span. After notching 13 straight from 1990 through 2002, Maddux saw Mike Hampton get the honor for NL pitchers in '03. Then Maddux got on another Gold Glove roll, bolstering his reputation as the best fielding pitcher of his time.
The remainder of the NL Gold Glove list includes catcher Yadier Molina of the Cardinals, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres, second baseman Brandon Phillips of the Reds, shortstop Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies, third baseman David Wright of the Mets, outfielder Nate McLouth of the Pirates, outfielder Carlos Beltran of the Mets and outfielder Shane Victorino of the Phillies.
Besides Maddux, the repeat winners were Rollins, Wright and Beltran. The 2008 season marked the 52nd year of the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards.
Championship teams generally have the characteristic of being strong up the middle defensively, and the Phillies showed that with Rollins at shortstop and Victorino making 134 of his 138 starts in center field.
Rollins led NL shortstops with a .988 fielding percentage. He's the first Phillies player to win the award in consecutive seasons since third baseman Scott Rolen in 2000-01.
"It's an honor any time you are recognized as one of the best defensive players in the league," Rollins said. "It's something I work very hard at, and I understand the importance of playing on both sides of the ball."
Victorino also strives to be a well-rounded player. Philadelphia pitchers had a sense of comfort with Victorino roaming the outfield.
"Of course, you want to do well offensively, but I always take pride in my defense," Victorino said.
The Mets matched the Phillies with two Gold Glovers. Beltran now has three in a row. The New York center fielder finished third in the NL with eight outfield assists.
"Even on the days when I don't get a hit, I feel I can make a difference in the field," Beltran said.
Wright appreciated his second straight Gold Glove, but he just wished it could have come in a year when the Mets made the playoffs.
"Individual awards are nice, but, for me, my entire focus is on the team and getting back to the playoffs," Wright said.
The Cardinals have a tradition of turning out Gold Glove catchers, and Molina now joins the list. In a year when Molina hit a career-best .304, he continued to be a soothing presence for a St. Louis rotation that thrived despite injuries to some key performers.
The Cardinals have had seven Gold Glove catchers in the last 18 years. Tom Pagnozzi was honored in 1991, 1992 and 1994, and Mike Matheny captured the award in 2000, '03 and '04. Molina long has been considered one of the best defensive catchers in the Major Leagues.
"You look at what he has done with our pitchers ... and when you look at what he has done as a pure catcher, he ranks right up there at the top," St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak said.
Although San Diego endured a tough season, the all-around play of Gonzalez provided a silver lining. The smooth-fielding Gonzalez committed just six errors at first base.
"He made plays with his arm," said Padres manager Bud Black, who often marveled at Gonzalez's ability to make the 3-6-3 double play look easy.
Gonzalez gives the Padres a Gold Glove winner at first base for the first time in franchise history.
Cincinnati's Phillips led NL second basemen in fielding percentage, committing just seven errors in 706 total chances. He had a 78-game errorless streak from April 10 through July 8.
Phillips becomes the first Reds player to win a Gold Glove since second baseman Pokey Reese in 2000.
McLouth committed just one error in 155 outfield appearances for the Pirates. He's the first Pirates Gold Glove winner since Jay Bell in 1993.
"My goal going into the season was to play center field every day," McLouth said. "It didn't cross my mind, to be honest with you, that a Gold Glove would be a possibility."
The American League Gold Glove winners will be announced on Thursday.
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less