The Royals’ Alex Gordon solidified his status as the best defensive left fielder in the American League on Tuesday night when he won a second consecutive Gold Glove award.
The award for outstanding defensive performance came after a vote by managers and coaches, and it was announced in a live telecast on ESPN2. The other finalists were Desmond Jennings of the Tampa Bay Rays and David Murphy of the Texas Rangers.
“Players always want to be consistent and go out there and always produce well,” Gordon said. “To win it again is a great honor. I’m very excited about it. Hopefully, I can keep on being consistent in the outfield and keep bringing Gold Gloves home. It’s pretty cool.”
This season, Gordon had 24 runs saved (a sabermetric statistic), the most of any left fielder in baseball, according to FanGraphs. Jennings was second in the AL with nine. That helped Gordon win The Fielding Bible award last week as the best defensive left fielder in baseball.
While Gordon’s 17 outfield assists were three fewer than his team record of a year ago, they were the most by a left fielder in the majors. Additionally, Gordon made just two errors for a .994 fielding percentage.
The last Royals player to win a Gold Glove award in consecutive years was second baseman Frank White in 1986-87.
Gordon, 28, also had another sensational year at the plate. He batted .294 with a major-league best 51 doubles, 14 home runs, 72 RBIs and 73 walks.
What’s particularly impressive about Gordon’s pair of Gold Gloves is that he played third base until midway through 2010 when physical limitations from a surgically-repaired right hip prompted the switch.
“The funny thing is when I was playing third base and taking ground balls over and over again, I would always go to the outfield and shag (flies) and tell guys, ‘Man, I wish I played in the outfield,’” Gordon said. “I think it was always maybe destined that I was supposed to go out there.”
While Gordon said he initially felt lost in the outfield, things turned in spring training in 2011 as he began throwing out runners. The rest is history.
The move to the outfield also made room for current third baseman Mike Moustakas, who was a finalist for a Gold Glove this season. However, Texas’ Adrian Beltre got that award.
Other Royals finalists this year were right fielder Jeff Francoeur (the award went to Oakland’s Josh Reddick) and first baseman Eric Hosmer (the award went to the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira).
Gordon, who said catcher Salvador Perez and shortstop Alcides Escobar also had great seasons, believes his teammates will bring home some awards in the near future.
“We’re a young enough team where people are starting to take notice ,” Gordon said. “Maybe it didn’t happen this year, but people are starting to recognize (them) and hopefully later in their careers they’ll start getting those Gold Gloves.”
The award apparently also serves a dual purpose.
“The last one was used as a chip-and-dip tray in Kansas City,” Gordon said. “Maybe we’ll put this one on the shelf and have it in the Lincoln (Neb.) house.”
Gordon’s selection marks the 20th time a Royals player received the award, but only the fourth time since 1989. Outfielder Jermaine Dye won in 2000 and second baseman Mark Grudzielanek won in 2006.
White won eight times from 1977-87. The other winners were Amos Otis (three times), Al Cowens, Willie Wilson, George Brett, Bob Boone, Bret Saberhagen, Dye and Grudzielanek.
The Gold Glove awards are sponsored by Rawlings, a sports-equipment manufacturer, and date to 1957.