Gordon, Perez, Hosmer win Gold Glove Awards
Left fielder claims third in a row; backstop and first baseman first-timers
KANSAS CITY -- It's a historic first for the Royals as they celebrate three Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners -- catcher Salvador Perez, first baseman Eric Hosmer and left fielder Alex Gordon.
Gordon is on the American League squad of top defenders for the third straight time. Perez and Hosmer are first-time honorees. The winners were announced during Tuesday night's awards show on ESPN2.
Never before has the Kansas City franchise had three Gold Glove winners in one year. The Royals have had two on three occasions.
Two of the Royals' five 2013 nominees were not chosen. Shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain each lost to repeat winners from the Orioles -- J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones, respectively.
The Royals and the Orioles each had three Gold Glove winners, the Red Sox two and the Blue Jays one.
Hosmer became the first player in Royals history to win a Gold Glove as a first baseman. Gordon joins Amos Otis (1971, 1973-74) as the only Royals outfielders to win three Gold Gloves. Perez is only the team's second catcher honored, joining Bob Boone in 1989.
"The thing that impresses me so much is I think these kids are only going to get better and better defensively," said Royals manager Ned Yost.
This is Gordon's third straight Gold Glove, making him just the second player in franchise history to win three years in a row. Second baseman Frank White won six straight years, 1977-82.
Gordon led AL left fielders with 341 total chances but made only one error. He led the AL with 17 outfield assists and now has a Major League best of 54 since 2011. Typical of his throws was a toss on Sept. 14 to Escobar, who relayed to Perez to nab the Tigers' Prince Fielder and end a 1-0 victory. Gordon tabbed that as his favorite play of the year.
"Just because we were in the middle of the chase in the Central Division ... it was a pretty special play for everyone, I think," Gordon said.
Diving catches and grabs against the wall also have become Gordon standbys. After breaking into the Majors at third base, he didn't switch to the outfield until 2010 during a stay with Triple-A Omaha.
The other AL candidates in left field were Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes and Detroit's Andy Dirks.
Hosmer succeeds 2012 winner Mark Teixeira of the Yankees, who missed most of the season with an injury.
Not only did Hosmer make just eight errors while handling 1,335 chances, second most in the AL at the position, but he led the league with 122 assists. That was 24 more assists than runner-up James Loney of the Rays and only the Orioles' Chris Davis had more total plays. They were the two other finalists at the position.
Digging throws out of the dirt is Hosmer's passion.
"The favorite thing for me is for Escobar to go in the hole and jump and throw it and then I dig it out to complete the play," Hosmer said. "The same with Moose [third baseman Mike Moustakas ] or any of the infielders. The infield itself prides itself on saving the pitchers runs and doing what we can so it's always a good feeling to see the teammate next to you make a good play and be the one to finish it off."
Perez led AL catchers with 71 assists and stymied 23 basestealing attempts for 35.2 percent. Pitchers had a 3.36 ERA when he was behind the plate and he added the ninth career pickoff of his career.
"You try to look at the catcher position as a quarterback for the team and he does a great job of calling the game," Yost said. "I'm just extremely pleased that he had the opportunity to win the Gold Glove. There were some great candidates that he beat out and it shows you where this young player is in his development."
A first-time All-Star along with Gordon this year, Perez had the honor of catching legendary closer Mariano Rivera's farewell to the Midsummer Classic. He won over previous winners Matt Wieters of the Orioles and Joe Mauer of the Twins.
Perez was traveling in Spain and couldn't join in a conference call with reporters.
In addition to the three Royals, Hardy and Jones, the AL team included second baseman Dustin Pedroia and right fielder Shane Victorino of the Red Sox, third baseman Manny Machado of the Orioles and pitcher R.A. Dickey of the Blue Jays.
The Royals have had more than one winner in the same year three times -- 1977, White and outfielder Al Cowens; 1980, White and outfielder Willie Wilson, and 1989, Boone and pitcher Bret Saberhagen.
All three of the Royals' winners this year came up through the team's Minor League system.
"Kansas City is a small-market team but for all these guys to be recognized like this just shows how good of a baseball team we have and how hard these guys work," Hosmer said.
As always, Major League managers and coaches did the Gold Glove balloting (they couldn't vote for their own players) but this year a new element was added. A sabermetrics statistical analysis of players' defensive abilities accounted for 25 to 30 percent of the decision making, according to Rawlings.
Fans now can vote online for each league's best top defensive player at www.rawlings.com with the Rawlings Platinum Glove winners to be announced Nov. 8 in New York.