ST. PETERSBURG -- Evan Longoria's slick fielding paid off Tuesday with a Gold Glove for the Rays third baseman.
"It's the one award that I've wanted to win since I started pro ball," Longoria said. "I take a lot of pride in my defense, so this award is very special to me. It's humbling to have your name associated with some of the great players who have won a Gold Glove, especially the third basemen."
By winning his first Gold Glove, Longoria became the second player in Rays history to win the award. First baseman Carlos Pena became the first Rays player to win a Gold Glove, when he did so in 2008.
"I would like to thank the managers and coaches who voted for me and I'd also like to thank Carlos Peña," Longoria said. "We all know how good he is. He probably saved me at least five errors this year, so without him the award might not have been possible."
Nationwide, many know Longoria just for his explosive bat, which has led him to two All-Star Game appearances and American League Rookie of the Year honors in 2008. But those who watch Longoria daily know that the 24-year-old is the complete package, which includes an above-average glove.
Longoria had the second-best fielding percentage among AL third basemen with a .970 percentage, which trailed Baltimore's Melvin Mora's .971. His 43 double plays led all Major League third basemen and his 302 assists ranked second in the AL. He became the first in club history to start more than 120 games in a season at third base. The Rays had used 34 different starters there before his arrival in 2008.
In addition to Longoria's fielding numbers, no third baseman in the game charges bunts like the Rays third baseman.
The winners were selected by managers and coaches from each AL team, who can't vote for their own players.
Longoria is the youngest to win an AL Gold Glove at any position since Athletics third baseman Eric Chavez in 2001. Since the Gold Glove was first awarded in 1957, only three third basemen have won it at a younger age: Brooks Robinson (age 23 in 1960) of the Orioles, Scott Rolen (age 23 in 1998) of the Phillies and Chavez.
Since 1990, only seven players have won a Gold Glove at a younger age than Longoria: Ken Griffey Jr., Ivan Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, Roberto Alomar, Rolen, Chavez and Jeff Francoeur.
The 2008 season marked the 53rd year of the Gold Glove Award. The first were awarded in 1957 to one player at each position from both leagues, then expanded the next year to include a lineup of nine players, one from each league.
Seattle's Adrian Beltre won the AL Gold Glove for third basemen in 2008.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.