Arenado, Gordon win 2020 Platinum Gloves
The winners of the 2020 Rawlings Platinum Glove Awards, which are presented each year to the best overall defensive player in each league, were announced on MLB Network on Friday night, and they are no strangers to the honor -- in the American League, Royals left fielder Alex Gordon won the award for the second time, and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado won for the fourth consecutive year in the National League.
Gordon, who announced that 2020 would be his final Major League season following a 14-year career in which he won eight Gold Glove Awards and another Platinum Glove Award (2014), was a fixture in the Royals' lineup for all 14 seasons. He is a three-time All-Star and helped lead Kansas City to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2014 and '15, with the Royals winning their first championship in 30 years when they defeated the Mets in '15.
"A lot of players today, they hate the outfield because there's so much time to think out there," Gordon said on MLB Network following the awards announcement. "But in between pitches, before it's about ready to happen, I always think about just what might happen, what I need to do, where I need to be. Visualization in the outfield and kind of that preparation before the play happens is huge and helped me out a lot."
Gordon was initially a third baseman for Kansas City, but moved to left field full-time following the 2010 season. He said he has many people to thank for his ability to transition to the outfield, as well as get through several injuries that hampered him over the years, but above all, his parents had the biggest influence on his successful Major League career.
"They gave me a tough work ethic, and that's what got me where I am now," Gordon said. "Just constant work ethic, never being satisfied and always trying to be the best. I give a lot of credit to my parents."
In the NL, it's been a rough era to play in defensively if your name isn't Nolan Arenado. Colorado's superstar third baseman won his eighth consecutive Gold Glove Award in 2020, extending his own record for most consecutive Gold Glove Awards to begin an infielder's career. Arenado also has a monopoly of the Platinum Glove Award in the NL, which he has now won in four consecutive years.
Despite a difficult season at the plate in which he played through injury, Arenado led all of baseball with 15 Defensive Runs Saved during the 2020 season, and finished tied with outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Luis Robert for the most Outs Above Average in MLB, with seven.
With his utter defensive domination at the hot corner, a question naturally arises: What's the most difficult play for him?
"I think the backhand is always the hardest play," Arenado said on MLB Network. "Your body is going toward the third-base dugout and you've gotta throw the ball across your body -- that's always the toughest play. That's probably the play I work on the most and is the hardest one for me. It's just, you try to get better as much as you can, and that's what it's all about."
Among the motivators for Arenado to get ever closer to perfection of his craft are his teammates.
"Those guys have made my life a lot easier," he said. "When I see them range and make plays, I want to range and make plays also. I remember in my rookie year, I played with Troy Tulowitzki, and I just tried to stay out of his way. But after a while, he used to tell me to just go get it and be aggressive. That's just kind of how we are -- we push each other, and it's always made me a better fielder."
With Gordon retiring, there's one less obstacle in the way for the aspiring AL player who wants to own a Platinum Glove Award someday. On the other hand, if you're in the NL, good luck.