BASEBALL: Ichiro gets 10th Gold Glove in row, Jeter wins 5th
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Ichiro Suzuki won his 10th straight Gold Glove for a full season of fielding excellence. Mark Buehrle won again, perhaps clinching his spot with an acrobatic play on opening day.
Derek Jeter, well, his selection is likely to set off another loud round of dispute over whether the award is relevant anymore.
Rawlings announced the American League honors Tuesday. Managers and coaches vote for players in their leagues and can’t pick players on their own teams.
Also chosen were first baseman Mark Teixeira and second baseman Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees; third baseman Evan Longoria and outfielder Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays; Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer and Seattle outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.
The NL awards will be announced Wednesday.
Suzuki tied the AL record for Gold Gloves by an outfielder shared by Ken Griffey Jr. and Al Kaline. The Seattle right fielder has won every year he’s been in the big leagues.
The overall record for outfielders is held by Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente with 12 each. The awards started in 1957, so there’s no telling how many Mays, Clemente or others might have won before then. Angels outfielder Torii Hunter’s streak of nine in a row ended this season.
Jeter won for the fifth time at shortstop – at 36, the New York Yankees captain is the oldest AL shortstop to win the Gold Glove since Luis Aparicio was the same age in 1970. Only Ozzie Smith, Omar Vizquel, Aparicio and Mark Belanger have won more total Gold Gloves at shortstop than Jeter.
“It is a tremendous honor to receive the Gold Glove award, especially since this recognition comes from managers and coaches for whom I have a great deal of respect. It is particularly gratifying to be recognized for defense, as it is something I take a lot of pride in and am constantly working to improve,” Jeter said in a statement.
Jeter was charged with just six errors and had a career-high .989 fielding percentage, both best among full-time AL shortstops.
But modern fielding charts and rankings consistently put Jeter in the bottom half of their ratings. Two websites that study glovework – http://www.fangraphs.com with its Ultimate Zone Rating and http://www.fieldingbible.com – listed Chicago’s Alexei Ramirez as the top-fielding AL shortstop with Jeter nowhere close to even middle-of-the-pack status.
Ramirez made 20 errors and had a .974 fielding percentage.
“I think a lot of errors he got were plays that others wouldn’t have gotten to,” Buehrle said on a conference call. “I think he was deserving.”
“I don’t see Derek play every day,” he said. “I think there are a lot of guys who could’ve won it.”
Jeter’s range seemed to noticeably decline – he’s never been the best at getting to balls up the middle. This season, it seemed more grounders into the hole got through, too, with third baseman Alex Rodriguez ranging less and less to his left.
For years, some fans have viewed the Gold Gloves as mostly a popularity contest, even suggesting that a player’s performance at the plate helped draw extra attention to his glove. Jeter’s wins have often served as a lightning rod for that debate.
Serious questions about the Gold Gloves have stirred for more than a decade, growing ever since Rafael Palmeiro won the award at first base in 1999. He played there only 28 games for Texas that season, spending most of the year as a designated hitter.
Buehrle was an easy choice for his second Gold Glove – he became the first pitcher with multiple no-hitters and Gold Gloves on his resume. He had a 1.000 fielding percentage in 50 chances this year and led major league pitchers with a career-high 11 pickoffs.
The lefty was the leading candidate from Day One, with his play in a 6-0 win over Cleveland. Buehrle stuck out his leg and deflected Lou Marson’s hard one-hopper into foul territory beyond the first-base line, scrambled off the mound and used his glove to flip the ball between his legs to get the out.
“I had people saying all year that the one play won it,” Buehrle said.
Gutierrez, who plays center field, Crawford and Cano also won for the first time. Crawford became a free agent when the season ended and is unlikely to re-sign with Tampa Bay.
Teixeira became a four-time winner, Mauer won his third Gold Glove and Longoria earned his second.
Gutierrez and Suzuki each receive $50,000 bonuses. Buehrle, Crawford, Longoria and Mauer get $25,000 apiece.