HOF ballot newcomers Omar Vizquel, Scott Rolen and Andruw Jones were defensive wizards
On Monday afternoon, the Baseball Hall of Fame voting cycle was kicked into gear by the release of the 2018 ballot. Returning favorites like Vladimir Guerrero and Edgar Martinez were back, but it also featured several interesting newcomers hoping for induction.
Although there are some tremendous hitters in that group, three names in particular also developed an incredible reputation for their defensive prowess -- shortstop Omar Vizquel, third baseman Scott Rolen and center fielder Andruw Jones.
The trio combined for a ridiculous 29 Gold Gloves, and Vizquel led the way with 11. He took home the honor first back in 1993 with the Mariners, where he began to hit highlight reels with plays like this:
Of course, people most remember Vizquel for his years of excellence with the Indians. The Mariners traded him in Dec. 1993, and he proceeded to win Gold Gloves in each of his first eight seasons in Cleveland, peaking on the national stage with this gem in Game 6 of the 1997 World Series:
1997 was also Scott Rolen's first full season in the Majors, and he won the National League Rookie of the Year with the Phillies. Even on Opening Day, Vin Scully had to recognize that he was watching someone special at the hot corner:
Rolen was 23 when he won his first Gold Glove in 1998, and his defense did not fade with age. After successful stints with the Phillies, Cardinals and Blue Jays, Rolen captured his eighth and final Gold Glove at age 35 in 2010 with the Reds. He could still pick it with the best:
Remarkably, Andruw Jones was even younger than Rolen when he won his first Gold Glove. The smooth center fielder was only 21 during the 1998 season, which turned out to be the start of 10 consecutive Gold Glove campaigns with the Braves.
It didn't matter whether the ball sailed toward left-center field ...
... right-center field ...
... or even over his head:
Simply put, it was quite often a lost cause whenever you hit the ball anywhere near Jones. That's how you build up a fascinating Hall of Fame case.