Deserving recognition heaped on KC's defense
KANSAS CITY -- Royals fans and the team's pitchers knew it all along, but the postseason awards are making it official: the Kansas City defense was pretty doggone good this year.
For the first time, three Royals won Rawlings Gold Glove Awards in the American League -- left fielder Alex Gordon, first baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Salvador Perez.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain also were nominated for Gold Glove Awards, and Cain was named the Royals Defensive Player of the Year by Wilson. Not only that, but the Royals were co-winners with the Orioles as Wilson's American League Defensive Team of the Year.
"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 these guys work," Hosmer said.
In 2012, third baseman Mike Moustakas was one of the three Gold Glove Award nominees as well. He wasn't too shabby this year, either.
Closer Greg Holland certainly assigns the Royals' "D" an "A" grade.
"It gave me the ability to attack hitters more. I've never been afraid of throwing the ball over the plate, but you also realize when you have a defense that's that solid all the way around, one through nine, if you make them hit the ball four or five times in a row -- even if they hit it hard, somebody's going to make the play," Holland said. "They did it day-in and day-out, saved a lot of runs and in turn, that saved games."
Perez, just 23, gave the pitchers a lift not only with his arm and blocking abilities but with his game-calling this season.
"He's still learning, he's just a kid, man," said starter James Shields, "and to be able to make the strides he made from Spring Training and to be able to work with a new staff ... I mean, there are not many catchers that could possibly do that and have a lot of success. He did a phenomenal job this year."
Hosmer's ability to snare slightly-errant throws has made all the other infielders better in manager Ned Yost's view.
"He not only makes them look so good, but there's a comfort level with our infielders with Hoz at first base, because they know they have the opportunity to make a spectacular play," Yost said. "They know that they can catch a ball, wheel and throw, and no matter where it's going to be -- high, low, left or right -- Hoz is going to be there to pick it."
It was a great blend of superb defense and strong pitching for the 2013 Royals.
"Just the way we played behind our pitching staff, really there wasn't a weak position on our infield or our outfield," Gordon said. "So it was great to see that good pitching matched with that great defense."