Angels' Pujols, Calhoun are Gold Glove finalists

Angels' Pujols, Calhoun are Gold Glove finalists

Angels first baseman Albert Pujols and right fielder Kole Calhoun were named Rawlings American League Gold Glove Award finalists on Thursday, deemed among the top three defenders at their respective positions by AL rivals and baseball analysts.

Major League managers and coaches -- voting only within their league and disallowed from selecting players from their own teams -- contributed 75 percent of the vote, with the sabermetric community making up the other 25 percent.

Winners will be announced on Nov. 4, at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN2.

Pujols, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner, is up against Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and Eric Hosmer of the AL champion Royals. Calhoun, coming off his first full season in the big leagues, will have to beat out Nick Markakis of the Orioles and Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays.

Two notable snubs on the Angels were center fielder Mike Trout and shortstop Erick Aybar.

Trout remains among baseball's most dynamic and athletic outfielders, but his Ultimate Zone Rating was minus-9.8 in 2014 and his throwing arm has always been a hindrance, although it has improved. With his legs healthy again, Aybar had a great season at his position, turning in a 7.5 UZR after a minus-6.6 in 2013, but the three Gold Glove Award finalists at shortstop -- Alcides Escobar of the Royals, J.J. Hardy of the Orioles and Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox -- are also above average.

Calhoun, given a chance to play every day when Peter Bourjos was dealt to the Cardinals last November, has probably the best throwing arm in the Angels' organization and got great jumps on balls throughout the year, ultimately turning in a UZR of 5.7 that was second among qualified AL right fielders (Markakis led with a score of 6.2). His nine assists ranked third among AL right fielders.

Calhoun's athleticism showed up in an assortment of diving catches, and his vertical leap was evident at Fenway Park on Aug. 19, when the 5-foot-10 leadoff hitter leaped over the small fence in right field to rob Brock Holt of a three-run homer and turn in the Angels' best defensive play of the year.

Must C: Catch

"I got hops, dude!" Calhoun said that night.

Pujols doesn't have hops like that, but he exhibited much more range after a season in which he missed the final two months with a partial tear of his left plantar fascia. The 34-year-old started 116 games at first base, after being primarily a designated hitter in an injury-plagued '13 season, and made only three errors. Pujols' 6.3 UZR was the highest among AL first basemen.

"Albert hasn't showcased his skills the first two years he was with us because of being a little bit banged up, but he's like 'The Cat' down there, he reminds me of [Andres] Galarraga," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Just everything from his hands to the way he moves around the bag, his experience."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.