Jeter, Teixeira win Gold Gloves; Mauer honored
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Derek Jeter sure is stuffing his trophy case this year.
The steady Yankees shortstop won his fourth Gold Glove on Tuesday, joining New York first baseman Mark Teixeira among the American League players rewarded for fantastic fielding.
“I’ve always taken a great deal of pride in my defense, and being honored with a Gold Glove is an accomplishment I will never overlook,” Jeter said in a statement.
Los Angeles Angels center fielder Torii Hunter and Seattle right fielder Ichiro Suzuki both won for the ninth straight season. First-time winners included Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria, Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones and Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle.
Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer and Detroit second baseman Placido Polanco each earned their second award.
Rawlings has presented Gold Gloves annually since 1957. Managers and coaches vote on players in their own leagues before the regular season ends, but they may not select members of their own teams.
National League winners will be announced Wednesday.
It’s been a banner year for Jeter, who combined with Teixeira to help lead the Yankees past Philadelphia last week for the franchise’s 27th World Series title.
In addition to his fifth championship ring, Jeter also took home baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award for excellence on the field and in the community, and his second Hank Aaron Award as the AL’s top hitter. In September, he broke Lou Gehrig’s club record for hits.
The Gold Glove is perhaps his most surprising piece of hardware, however. Jeter, who turned 35 in June, enjoyed one of his best defensive seasons after years of criticism for a lack of range.
A 10-time All-Star, Jeter won three consecutive Gold Gloves from 2004-06. But detractors pointed to modern fielding stats that indicated his defense didn’t warrant such accolades. They said it was his bat that brought on the attention – and the New York spotlight.
This season, Jeter made a career-low eight errors and matched his personal best with a .986 fielding percentage, both ranking at the top of the AL charts. He anchored an outstanding Yankees infield as New York set a major league record by going 18 games without an error from May 14 to June 1.
“Playing championship-caliber baseball starts with pitching and defense, and I think those two components were certainly the foundation for our success in 2009,” said Jeter, who made 56 errors as a 19-year-old at Class-A Greensboro in 1993.
Teixeira played a big part in New York’s title, too.
In his first season with the Yankees after signing a $180 million, eight-year contract, Teixeira impressed with his reliable glove as well as his powerful bat. He saved runs with diving stops, nimble stretches and tough scoops. Teammates and opponents alike pointed to his substantial effect on the club’s overall defense.
A Gold Glove winner in 2005 and ’06 with Texas, Teixeira committed just four errors this year and had a .997 fielding percentage.
“Solid defense is the most underrated component of winning baseball, but it is something I have always taken pride in,” Teixeira said. “Winning a third Gold Glove means a lot to me, especially when good defense helped our entire team reach the ultimate goal of a world championship.”
Mauer, a top contender for AL MVP, won his second consecutive Gold Glove after leading the Twins on a late charge into the playoffs.
Longoria, last year’s AL Rookie of the Year, unseated Seattle’s Adrian Beltre at third base. Beltre, hampered by injuries this season, won the previous two years after a six-year run by Oakland’s Eric Chavez.
“It’s the one award that I’ve wanted to win since I started pro ball,” Longoria said in a statement. “I take a lot of pride in my defense, so this award is very special to me. It’s humbling to have your name associated with some of the great players who have won a Gold Glove, especially the third basemen.”
In addition to the voters, Longoria thanked teammate Carlos Pena, last season’s Gold Glove winner at first base.
“We all know how good he is. He probably saved me at least five errors this year, so without him the award might not have been possible,” Longoria said.
Buehrle pitched a perfect game against Tampa Bay on July 23. But when he allows runners, he’s particularly effective at holding them on.
The left-hander yielded only four stolen bases in eight tries this season and picked off eight runners. The only pitcher with more pickoffs was former teammate Clayton Richard, who had nine, according to STATS LLC. Chicago traded Richard to San Diego on July 31 in a package for ace Jake Peavy.
“Hopefully, I earned it this year,” Buehrle said.
Polanco, who has filed for free agency, committed two errors all season. He also won in 2007 – without making an error – before losing out last year to Boston’s Dustin Pedroia.
With nine Gold Gloves apiece, Hunter and Suzuki are one shy of the AL record for outfielders, shared by Ken Griffey Jr. and Hall of Famer Al Kaline.
Hunter receives a $100,000 bonus for winning the Gold Glove, while Suzuki gets $50,000. Buehrle, Longoria, Mauer and Polanco each earned $25,000.
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.