Five Royals among Gold Glove finalists

02/20/2014 12:44 PM

02/20/2014 12:44 PM

It could be a golden offseason for the Royals.

Five Royals were chosen as finalists for Gold Glove awards, Rawlings announced Friday. They are first baseman Eric Hosmer, shortstop Alcides Escobar, catcher Salvy Perez, left fielder Alex Gordon and center fielder Lorenzo Cain.

Gordon won the award the previous two seasons. If he wins again this year, Gordon would join Amos Otis as the only Royals outfielders to win three Gold Gloves.

Gold Glove winners will be announced Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

Gordon seemingly has the inside track to a third Gold Glove. He led AL left fielders in assists (17), five more than Dayan Viciedo. Gordon’s 323 putouts outpaced second-place Michael Brantley of Cleveland (257).

Hosmer, Cain, Escobar and Perez have never won the award.

But there will be a new winner at first base as the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira, who took home the award last year, played in just 15 games this season.

Hosmer, who was a Gold Glove finalist last year, led American League first basemen in assists (122), ahead of Tampa Bay’s James Loney (98).

Escobar was among the top five AL shortstops in putouts (222), assists (395) and double-plays turned (89). Additionally, FanGraphs determined that Escobar saved 18 runs over the league average, which was the best in the AL.

Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy, who won the Gold Glove last year at shortstop, is also a finalist.

Perez, an All-Star for the first time this season, led AL catchers in assists (71), despite missing time on the disabled list and for his grandmother’s funeral. Perez led the AL with 25 runners caught stealing and threw out 35.2 percent of would-be base stealers.

The competition is stiff. Last year’s winner, Baltimore’s Matt Wieters, has won the award twice and he is a finalist again along with Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, a three-time winner.

Still, Perez saved 16.1 runs over the league average, which was the best in the AL, according to FanGraphs.

Cain may be hampered by a lack of playing time. He appeared in just 115 games this season because of injury, but still finished fifth among AL center fielders with seven assists.

Baltimore’s Adam Jones, who won his second Gold Glove a year ago, is up against Cain.

Nevertheless, FanGraphs metrics lean toward Cain, whose 14.2 runs saved were the best among AL center fielders. He also was tops in Ultimate Zone Rating (12.8).

That’s important, because for the first time in its 57-year history, Rawlings added a sabermetric component to the Gold Glove Award selection process.

As part of a new collaboration with the Society for American Baseball Research, the SABR Defensive Index comprised of approximately 25 percent of the overall selection total, with the managers and coaches’ vote continuing to carry the majority.

The Royals have never had a Gold Glove winner at first or shortstop, and they have never had more than two Gold Glove winners in the same year.

Baltimore led AL Gold Glove finalists with six, followed by the Royals’ five, Tampa Bay with four, Boston with three, Oakland with two, Detroit with two, Toronto two, Texas one, New York one and Minnesota one.

Here’s how the Royals’ competition stacks up at the five positions:

•  Center field: Cain, Jacoby Ellsbury (Boston) and Adam Jones (Baltimore).
•  Left field: Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes (Oakland) and Andy Dirks (Detroit).
•  Shortstop: Escobar, Yunel Escobar (Tampa Bay) and J.J. Hardy (Baltimore).
•  First base: Hosmer, Chris Davis (Baltimore) and James Loney (Tampa Bay).
•  Catcher: Perez, Joe Mauer (Minnesota), Matt Wieters (Baltimore).

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