Seager wins first AL Gold Glove award
Kyle Seager has been one of the Mariners top hitters since his arrival in the Major Leagues in 2011, but the young third baseman took a big step forward defensively this past season as well and was rewarded with his first Rawlings American League Gold Glove on Tuesday.
Seager, who turned 27 on Monday, is Seattle’s first Gold Glove winner since outfielders Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez in 2010 and just the second Mariners third baseman ever honored, joining Adrian Beltre (2007 and ’08).
Beltre, a four-time winner, and Josh Donaldson of the A’s were the other two finalists for the AL third base award.
Pitcher Felix Hernandez and second baseman Robinson Cano were also top-three finalists for AL Gold Gloves, but Dallas Keuchel of the Astros won the pitching honor, while Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox took the second base award for the fourth time in his career.
Cano claimed the AL Gold Glove at second base in 2010 and 2012 for the Yankees, while Pedroia has now won in 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
Seager hadn’t been in the Gold Glove conversation until this year, when he rose to the fore in a season when 2013 winner Manny Machado of the Orioles missed considerable time with injuries.
“It is an honor to just be up for the award with all the great third basemen, let alone win the Gold Glove,” said Seager. “I really owe a lot to my coaches, especially Chris Woodward. He helped me tremendously.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon sung Seager’s praises all season, noting the progress made in the field under the tutelage of Woodward, who was in his first year as Seattle’s infield coach.
“He worked extremely hard,” McClendon said. “Woody has done a great job with him as far as his preparation. His awareness of guys in the league and what they’re capable of doing, his positioning is a lot better. And I think his feet are a lot better than they were in the past.”
Seager’s defensive metrics weren’t particularly impressive in the past, but he took a giant leap this year in leading all AL third baseman with a plus-24 rating in runs saved, according to Baseball-Reference.com, three ahead of Oakland’s Josh Donaldson. Seager also had the top “good throws” rating among AL third baseman by The Fielding Bible.
Seager led all Major League third baseman with his .981 fielding percentage, breaking Jeff Cirillo’s club record .973 set in 2002 and the 10th-best percentage by any AL third baseman since 1948. He ranked second among MLB third basemen in assists with 327, double plays with 37 and innings at 1,402.
“I think he has taken the next step,” McClendon said. “I think he’s one of the top third basemen in the league. And rightfully so. He played extremely well on both sides of the ball. And I think he’s only going to get better.”
Seager’s selection snapped a three-year dry spell for the Mariners in the Gold Glove competition. Prior to getting blanked in 2011, the Mariners had at least one Gold Glove winner for 24 straight years, thanks in part to 10 consecutive awards by Ken Griffey Jr. from 1990-99 and then 10 more for Ichiro from 2001-10.
Seager becomes the 12th Gold Glove winner in Mariners history. In addition to Griffey and Ichiro, past Seattle winners are second basemen Harold Reynolds and Bret Boone (three each), first baseman John Olerud (three), pitcher Mark Langston (two), outfielder Mike Cameron (two), Beltre (two), shortstop Omar Vizquel (one) and outfielders Jay Buhner and Gutierrez (one each).
The rest of the AL team named Tuesday included three Royals — left fielder Alex Gordon, first baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Salvador Perez as well as three Orioles in shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielders Adam Jones and Nick Markakis.