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Wong has Gold Glove Award on his mind

27-year-old leads all second basemen in DRS; J-Mart's HR holds special meaning
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- As he settled into his Hawaiian home last offseason, it gnawed at Kolten Wong that he had once again failed to attract enough attention to be a National League Gold Glove Award finalist at second base. The supposed slight spurred him to come back even better.

"I felt like I should be on that list," Wong said. "Coming into this year, it definitely was something I had in the back of my head, knowing that last year I didn't even get looked at. I wanted to make a statement this year."

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ST. LOUIS -- As he settled into his Hawaiian home last offseason, it gnawed at Kolten Wong that he had once again failed to attract enough attention to be a National League Gold Glove Award finalist at second base. The supposed slight spurred him to come back even better.

"I felt like I should be on that list," Wong said. "Coming into this year, it definitely was something I had in the back of my head, knowing that last year I didn't even get looked at. I wanted to make a statement this year."

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To overlook him now would be a gross oversight, as Wong has, based on just about every defensive metric, been the gold standard at his position this year. He ranks first among all second basemen in defensive runs saved (11), ultimate zone rating (6.2) and defensive runs above average (7.0). The latter measures a player's defensive value relative to league average and allows for comparisons across all positions.

In the NL, only two players -- center fielder Lorenzo Cain and catcher Willson Contreras -- rank better.

"I think it's just the process," Wong said. "I've never been satisfied with my defense. I always try to figure out how I can get better. I think all the years combined, things are starting to come together this year."

Video: SD@STL: Wong flips with his glove, starts double play

There have been other factors besides experience, too. Wong credits Jose Oquendo, who returned to the coaching staff after a two-year hiatus, with "never letting me get lazy or take days off." Wong has also avoided one of his early-career pitfalls of letting offensive results cripple his defensive focus.

That's especially notable given that this has been, to date, the worst offensive year of his career. He entered Wednesday slashing .197/.295/.333 with a .629 OPS, but continues to earn starts because of his defensive contributions.

"There's no question that he's a Gold Glove-caliber talent," manager Mike Matheny said. "What we've seen with Kolten [this year] is a guy who, when he hits a home run, he goes out and plays the same defense as we're seeing if he had a rough at-bat. I think it's maturity. It's been a conscious improvement for him to improve as he has."

Father-son connection

Jose Martinez, eager to add to his mother's collection of mementos, said that he will soon be sending her a baseball from the Cardinals' 11-2 win on Tuesday. Though the night belonged to Matt Carpenter, it also had significance for Martinez.

Martinez's second-inning blast marked the 26th home run of his career. That's one more than his late father, Carlos Martinez, hit over 1,485 games in seven seasons. Jose Martinez, who debuted in 2016, surpassed him in his 556th career game.

Video: CLE@STL: Jose Martinez crushes a 3-run homer to left

"It's very special," said Martinez, whose father died of cancer just before he signed his first professional contract. "There's always something interesting that comes up to help me remember him. My first home run was against the Blue Jays, and his first one was against the Blue Jays. And this one to pass him, it was against the Indians. There's always a connection."

Carlos Martinez spent three years playing for Cleveland.

Worth noting

Yairo Munoz, who exited Tuesday's game after fouling a ball off his left ankle, remained out of the lineup for Wednesday's series finale vs. the Indians but grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the fourth inning in the Cardinals' 5-1 loss. Greg Garcia drew the start at shortstop in his place.

Video: CLE@STL: Munoz exits game after fouling ball off foot

• With the signing of their fourth-round pick, pitcher Steven Gingery, this week, the Cardinals have now agreed to terms with each of their first 14 selections from the 2018 MLB Draft. Gingery, a lefty who recently appeared in the College World Series with Texas Tech University, agreed to a bonus of $825,000.

• After receiving an injection to stimulate blood flow to his middle right finger on Tuesday, Matt Bowman returned to the mound Wednesday to throw a bullpen session. If the treatment for Raynaud's Syndrome is effective, Bowman is likely to head out on a Minor League rehab assignment soon. He's eligible to come off the disabled list Friday.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals, Jose Martinez, Kolten Wong