Predicting Every 2012 AL Gold Glove Award Winner
We may all be immersed in the excitement surrounding the playoff picture as we wind down the regular season, but it's never too late to look towards October and beyond, when the postseason picture unfolds and end-of-season awards are handed out.
Countless stories have taken shape this season, and while some of the old staples have been their old selves as they roam the field, there has been no shortage of surprising efforts from the game's stars, young and old.
Here is who will be hoisting some hardware when the 2012 American League Gold Glove trophies make their way to their rightful owners.
Pitcher: Justin Masterson
With three-time defending AL Gold Glove winner Mark Buehrle moving to the National League, it looks like Cleveland Indians pitcher Justin Masterson may be able to squeak in and take the hardware for himself.
Masterson's 2.63 range factor is the best among American League pitchers, and with only one error and 32 putouts this season, he's done his best to help his team with the leather, not just his arm.
Catcher: Alex Avila
Matt Wieters may be a formidable option for the award at catcher this season, but Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila will have something to say about it when all is said and done.
With the fewest errors among American League catchers and the most baserunners thrown out, Avila has been an asset to the Tigers as they work at making a return trip to the postseason this fall.
First Base: Mark Teixeira
With four Gold Gloves already to his name, New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira appears well on his way to another in 2012.
Among first basemen, Teixeira has one of the highest range factors in the league. With only one error all season, his .999 fielding percentage is the best in the game.
Second Base: Gordon Beckham
The Chicago White Sox's surprising ascent up the AL Central ranks can be attributed to a number of factors. Although their offense gets plenty of credit for keeping them in games, they also have some stout defensive figures roaming the field.
Second baseman Gordon Beckham has stepped up big with low errors and high marks in assists, fielding percentage and range factor. He's making a positive impression every time he flashes the leather.
Third Base: Adrian Beltre
Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is no stranger to defensive honors, and with the way he's playing in 2012, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him take home his fourth Gold Glove in six years.
Beltre's defensive resume this season includes only eight errors in nearly 300 chances, which is a league low for his position. His 2.51 range factor is bested by only Mike Moustakas and Brett Lawrie.
Shortstop: J.J. Hardy
The Baltimore Orioles have seemingly countless positive stories on their roster, with a new piece of the puzzle emerging every night the team takes to the diamond.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy is no exception, as he's played a big role on both sides of the game.
Hardy has significantly more assists than any shortstop in the American League, and with only six errors to his name in 2012, he's leading all qualified shortstops with a .991 fielding percentage.
Left Field: Alex Gordon
The Kansas City Royals have a number of young studs primed for big things as the years roll on and the AL Central continues to evolve.
In the meantime, individual honors should be coming for some of those that stick out above the rest.
Alex Gordon is the reigning Gold Glove winner in left field. His .997 fielding percentage and league-leading 12 outfield assists mean he's primed to repeat.
Center Field: Curtis Granderson
There is no shortage of solid outfielders in this league, but when it comes to center field, it takes an even more special person to cover so much ground and maintain awareness of what's going on in the infield.
Curtis Granderson's stat line sticks out among the rest: With 140 games under his belt in center field, he has yet to make an error this season.
He may have fewer outfield assists than other center fielders in the league, but a 1.000 fielding percentage is hard to argue.
Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki
2011 marked the end of Ichiro Suzuki's 10-year stranglehold on Gold Glove honors as he was passed over by Jacoby Ellsbury, Nick Markakis and Alex Gordon.
Suzuki has a great chance of getting back into the fold this year, however, as he's near the top of every defensive category among right fielders, including a 2.02 range factor and one error to his name.