2012 MLB Predictions: AL Central Gold Glove Candidates

Steven KersteinContributor IMarch 19, 2012

2012 MLB Predictions: AL Central Gold Glove Candidates

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    The AL Central hasn't necessarily been the stomping grounds of baseball's best defenders over the years.

    Sure, Torii Hunter would go from one Midwest city to the next, robbing base hits and potential round trippers.  Too bad he hasn't been around for the past five seasons.

    The 2011 AL Gold Glove squad only had two representatives from the Al Central: one a pitcher—former White Sox and current goofball Mark Buerhle of the Miami Marlins—and the other a converted outfielder—former first round bust and current stud Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals.

    With Buehrle gone to the Sunshine State, who will help Gordon represent the AL Central in the division's quest to gain defensive supremacy?

Alex Avila

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    When most baseball fans think of Detroit catchers, they probably think of Victor Martinez. 

    Too bad Martinez tore his anterior cruciate ligament and won't be suiting up anytime soon.  Then again, was he ever any good defensively?

    I'm not questioning V-Mart's hitting ability, but the slugger's a one-trick pony.

    Avila, on the other hand, is not.

    The 2011 All-Star hit .295 with 19 bombs and 82 RBIs.

    While the Gold Glove is a defense award, putting up this type of line doesn't really hurt your chances.

    If anything, this type of offensive production is essential to being noticed. 

    The backstop's stocky frame, combined with his above-average arm, is key to his defensive success.  The youngster threw out a decent 32% of attempted base thieves, while only committing five errors all season.  

    Look out, American League.  Avila's a good one. 

Gordon Beckham

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    Producing at the plate opens eyes.  Hopefully, Gordon Beckham is reading along somewhere.

    Seriously, Beckham was fantastic defending the White Sox infield last season.  The converted shortstop handled all the routine plays and made all the difficult ones look easy.  

    Now, the former first-round pick needs to learn how to handle the lumber.  

     If he does, he is a legitimate threat to be the 2012 AL Gold Glove-winning second basemen.  This notion sounds a bit ironic, considering it's a defensive award.  But that's baseball for you.

Alexei Ramirez

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    Speaking of the White Sox, Alexei Ramirez isn't too shabby defensively himself.  

    The Cuban Missile, as Hawk Harrelson likes to call him, brings a sense of smoothness and reliability that every organization looks for in a shortstop.  

    His athleticism, combined with his above-average strength, allows him to protect the diamond up the middle and take charge of the White Sox in field.  

    Given his offense and the decline of other American League shortstops, Ramirez will ultimately earn this honor.

    The question is, will it be this season?

Austin Jackson

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    Austin Jackson of the Detroit Tigers can flat-out get "it" in center field.  Jackson's quickness and closing speed make navigating the outfield of Comerica Park look like a piece of cake.

    Hardly.

    Jackson's blazing wheels frequented both Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter, making him a household name for web-gem lovers.

    Nonetheless, Jackson and high strikeout numbers are like peanut butter and jelly. For his Gold Glove chances' sake, I hope this simile proves to be false.

    If this scenario indeed plays out and Jackson learns that swinging at pitches below his ankles is a bad idea, lock this one up.

Asdrubal Cabrera

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    There's no doubt about it.  This budding Cleveland star owns a hilarious first name any haggling White Sox fan could shout at a Sox-Indians game.

    That doesn't stop Cabrera from making ridiculous plays, both with his glove and his arm.  

    On May 20th last season, Cabrera converted one of the craziest double plays I've ever seen.  Take a look.

    Cabrera's offensive outburst over the last couple of seasons has gotten the youngster's name on the map.  It's only a matter of time before he'll earn this prestigious honor.

    Tribe fans know he's no Roger Dorn...

Jeff Francoeur

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    Francoeur is known for two things: the rocket that takes the place of his right arm and his pickiness when it comes to pitch selection.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.

    While I might have fibbed regarding Frankie's plate presence, his 16 OF assists last season are no joking matter.  Unless you run a 4.4 40-yard dash, testing the veteran right fielder might not be the best idea.

    Unfortunately for Francoeur, his teammate Alex Gordon gunned down 20 runners last season.  Over/under 45 guys nailed down by the both of them?

Alcides Escobar

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    Another Kansas City Royal, another defensive stalwart.  Maybe the Chiefs should consider some of these guys' services?

    Seriously, the former Milwaukee Brewer can pick it.  His defense changes ball games, and he will soon become a familiar name for baseball fans. 

    There's really not much else to say regarding Escobar.  I guess you are just going to have to watch the Kansas City Royals for yourself.