Gordon, Yadi collect Platinum Glove Awards
MLB's top defensive players honored during annual ceremony
NEW YORK -- Royals left fielder Alex Gordon and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina were named winners of the 2014 Platinum Glove Award as the top fielders in their respective leagues, and Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols had a notable reunion during the annual Rawlings Gold Glove Award ceremony on Friday night at The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
The award, presented by SABR, is based on a combination of fan vote and the SABR Defensive Index.
In addition to the two overall Platinum Glove Awards, 18 Gold Gloves were formally presented in the lavish ceremony, which featured Major League Baseball stars past and present. Joe Piscopo emceed and Jay Leno provided the evening's entertainment after the presentations.
American League winners of Gold Gloves were first baseman Eric Hosmer of the Royals, second baseman Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox, shortstop J.J. Hardy of the Orioles, third baseman Kyle Seager of the Mariners, left fielder Gordon, center fielder Adam Jones of the Orioles, right fielder Nick Markakis of the Orioles, pitcher Dallas Keuchel of the Astros and catcher Salvador Perez of the Royals.
National League winners were first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers, second baseman DJ LeMahieu of the Rockies, shortstop Andrelton Simmons of the Braves, third baseman Nolan Arenado of the Rockies, left fielder Christian Yelich of the Marlins, center fielder Juan Lagares of the Mets, right fielder Jason Heyward of the Braves, pitcher Zack Greinke of the Dodgers and catcher Molina.
Gordon celebrated his fourth consecutive Gold Glove Award -- and as presenter and Royals legend and exec George Brett noted, it was the player's fourth in as many years as a left fielder. Gordon received 21.6 percent of the total AL Platinum Glove vote, besting teammate Perez (15.9 percent) and Pedroia (13.2 percent). In addition to the three Royals players, manager Ned Yost was on hand to see their acceptance.
"To have two teammates with you is pretty cool," Gordon said of the evening. "It's fun to share it with your teammates and to look back on the season and to know you accomplished something as sweet as this. ... If you see our team, when you make a great play, the pitcher's tipping his cap and we tip it back at him. It's just a good chemistry we have on the team, and whatever we can do on the field to help the pitcher, that's our job."
Video: Gordon, Lagares, Yelich attend Gold Glove Ceremony
Just nine days earlier, Gordon tripled in his final at-bat for a Royals club that went down to its final pitch before losing to the Giants in Game 7 of the World Series. His lasting image may have been of that play crashing into the screen of the left-field wall during the Royals' run. Given a little space to digest what just happened, he smiled and seemed content.
"It was a great season," Gordon said. "What a crazy ride it was. No better team to do it with than with the Royals -- a great group of guys and great coaches. It was just a fun experience."
Molina's Platinum Glove win was his third in the four-year history of the honor. He earned 20.6 percent of the overall NL selection tally, edging Lagares (17.7 percent), and Simmons (15.5).
"This year, the SABR Defensive Index and fan votes were closely aligned," said SABR President Vince Gennaro. "More and more fans are paying attention to defensive metrics, and it seems to be influencing their votes."
In a homecoming moment, La Russa presented Angels first baseman Pujols with the Rawlings Heart of Gold Award for community service. The two men led St. Louis to the '11 World Series title and then each departed immediately after.
What does fielding mean to La Russa?
"It's harder to do than be a hitter, because you have to concentrate every pitch, all game, not just four at-bats," he said. "It's more important, because the fewer runs you allow, the less you have to score to win. You don't win unless you play good defense, usually. Play great defense, then you win for sure."
Tommy Lasorda presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, the MLB executive vice president of baseball development. Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, a 10-time Gold Glove winner, became the 10th Rawlings Gold Glove Award Hall of Fame Inductee.
Steve Garvey narrated a special tribute to the late Hall of Famer and Gold Glove winner Tony Gwynn.
"He was on a mission and he truly made a difference," Garvey said. "He was one of us and will always be known as Tony Gwynn, the consummate professional."
Sixteen of the Gold Glove recipients were in attendance. Seager and Heyward were unable to attend, the latter attending his best friend's wedding.
Video: Nick Markakis wins second career Gold Glove Award
Markakis has an errorless streak of 328 games, dating back to Aug. 10, 2012 -- eight games short of Rich Amaral's AL record. Resplendent in a plaid jacket, Markakis stressed the importance of humility and not getting caught up in the luster of his first such trophy.
"This is just an award, man, it's just hardware," he said. "You can't look too much into it. You look too much into it and it starts creating problems. You just have to continue doing what got you here and continue about your business of what made you a baseball player and where you are today."
Yelich, representing the Marlins, seemed hugely thankful of his first Gold Glove. He was clearly moved by the presence of such defensive royalty in the game.
"It means a lot," Yelich said. "Coming into professional baseball out of high school in the Draft, I wasn't really regarded as someone who played good defense. There was a lot of hard work that went into it. A lot of other people were responsible for me being here with their support."
Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, who earned 13 Gold Gloves at shortstop, got the festivities started by ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. He signed boxes of Rawlings baseballs with the inscription: "Ozzie Smith 13 x GG." During the cocktail reception, he sat at a table next to 16-time Gold Glover Brooks Robinson and they reminisced.
"It's come a long way from the time we used to be presented with the Gold Glove in the dugout," Smith said. "Brooksie and I were talking about how much pride we take in being part of an organization like this for such a long time. I remember my first one in 1980. My goal coming into the Major Leagues in 1978 was to win myself a Gold Glove at some point and to win a silver bat, and I was able to accomplish both of those goals. So it's been very special."
"I get nervous when I see him," said Pedroia, who received his award from Smith. "I saw Ozzie and talked to him. They're great guys. I'd love to sit down and have lunch with them and hear their stories about how they did things. You'll never see anybody like those guys again."
Pedroia was asked during the cocktail reception if he has any message for Red Sox fans after the trying '14 season.
"They know the message," he said. "We're trying to win the World Series every year. That's the goal. We'll try to do that."
Bidding is underway at the MLB.com Auction on more than two dozen items from '14 Gold Glove winners, ranging from a No. 10 jersey that Jones wore during Baltimore's final homestand to baseballs signed by Greinke and Pedroia.