Flashing Leather: The Gold Glove Winners Around The Major Leagues
The 2009 MLB regular season just about wrapped up on Sunday.
There is still one game left to be played between Detroit and Minnesota to determine who takes home the AL Central crown this season.
The Cy Young award, MVP award and other awards will be handed out in the coming weeks giving worthy candidates recognition across the baseball world.
Another award will be handed out to individuals at each position across baseball in both leagues as well.
The Gold Glove award.
The award, handed out to the best fielder at each position in baseball, is underrated but also important. Defense is something that shouldn't be overlooked in a era filled with gaudy hitting numbers and large home run totals.
The Philadelphia Phillies of last season were known for their offense and timely pitching, but defense was also an integral part of their World Series run.
Without further ado, here are my picks for each league to win the Gold Glove in 2009.
Pitcher—Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox
Buehrle finished with the most total chances out of any pitcher in the American League and also had the most assists with 41. He committed just one error in a season where he threw a perfect game. He also finished tied for first in the American League with five double plays.
Catcher—Gerald Laird, Detroit Tigers
The Tiger catcher finished the season with the best fielding percentage of catchers that caught over 100 games (.997) and also had the most assists of any catcher in the AL. He committed just three errors on the season and threw out a league-high 42 base stealers in 101 attempts.
First Base—Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
Teixeira had a great all-around first season in pinstripes as he overcame a slow start to put up MVP-type numbers. He also played well in the field. Teixeira made only four errors all season finishing at a .997 clip. He made 1,222 put outs (second in the AL) and made the second-most starts at first (150).
Second Base—Placido Polanco, Detroit Tigers
A underrated second baseman overall, Polanco made just two errors all season in Detroit. Dustin Pedroia was the only other AL second bagger who came close to his error total (six) of players who played over 140 games at the position. To go along with his .997 fielding percentage, Polanco was in the top three in total chances, put outs, assists and double plays in the AL.
Third Base—Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
Beating out a worthy group of contenders such as Brandon Inge and Chone Figgins, Longoria fielded at a high level of play in 2009. His .970 fielding clip was the highest for anyone playing the amount of games he played and he led the league in double plays and was in the top three in put outs, assists and total chances.
Shortstop—Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
While this will be Elvis Andrus' award for years to come, Jeter nabs in in 2009. Jeter finished with a .986 fielding clip—which is very high for a shortstop. His steady play was apparent all season as he committed just eight errors.
Outfielders—David DeJesus, Kansas City Royals, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Bay, Boston Red Sox
In a off year for stalwarts such as Torii Hunter (injury), Ichiro Suzuki and Grady Sizemore (injury), others stepped up in their places. DeJesus and Bay didn't make an error all season while playing at least 144 games. They both also led the American League in assists at 13 and 15, respectively. Ellsbury made several highlight-reel catches throughout the season and committed just two errors all season starting in centerfield 150 games for the Red Sox.
Pitcher—Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Wainwright failed to make an error all season and was perfect in 56 chances off the mound. He was sixth in total chances, first in put outs and pitched the most innings in the National League.
Catcher—Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
The younger Molina edges out his brother, Bengie, and Dodgers catcher Russell Martin in this race. He started the most games in the NL at 136 and made just five errors all season. Yadier threw out 22 out of the 54 would be base stealers in 2009.
First Base—Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies
This one was a tight one between Helton and Atlanta's Adam LaRoche, but the nod goes to Helton. He committed just three errors all season and was third in total chances and put outs in the NL. As the leader in the Colorado clubhouse, his play on the field helped lead the team to the postseason.
Second Base—Orlando Hudson, Los Angeles Dodgers
Hudson finished at a .988 fielding clip in 2009 while making 143 starts for the NL West champions. He made only eight errors all season and was second in the NL in put outs. Others considered for the award were San Diego's David Eckstein and Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips.
Third Base—Kevin Kouzmanoff, San Diego Padres
Kouzmanoff established a new record in 2009 for NL third baseman with a .990 fielding percentage. He made three errors in 139 games for the Padres. The next best error total for a NL third baseman playing that many games was Pittsburgh's Andy LaRoche with 14.
Shortstop—Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies
While struggling at the plate for most of the season, Rollins didn't take it to the field with him. The former MVP made just six errors in 2009 and finished at a .990 fielding percentage. He was second in the NL in starts and games by a shortstop.
Outfielders—Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies, Nate McLouth, Atlanta Braves and Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
Gone are the days when Andruw Jones was included in this discussion. A new Atlanta centerfielder, however, is again in the discussion. McLouth made only one error all season and finished with nine assists and four double plays in 2009. Kemp was second in the NL with 14 assists and made only two errors in 393 chances (second most in NL). Victorino also made only one counted mistake all season and threw out eight runners from his position in centerfield. Apologies to Jeff Francoeur and Michael Bourn.
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