Some new names joined the list of those recognized by Major League Baseball as being the top fielders at their positions.
And one very familiar name returned.
Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals, shut out by Gold Glove voting in 2016 and 2017, will receive his ninth gold-plated catcher’s mitt, the league announced late Sunday.
The 36-year-old catcher is the senior member of a National League defense that includes first-time Gold Glovers Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves, Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Corey Dickerson of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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The World Series champion Boston Red Sox placed three players — outfielders Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. and second baseman Ian Kinsler — on an American League Gold Glove team that also includes three first-time winners.
Molina for years was the standard bearers for all National League catchers with eight consecutive Gold Gloves from 2008 through 2015. In 2011, Rawlings launched the annual Platinum Glove to the best overall fielder, regardless of position, in each league. Molina won the first two, then two more consecutively in 2014 and 2015. Only the Texas Rangers’ Adrian Beltre has won two.
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey broke Molina’s Gold Glove streak in 2016. Tucker Barnhart of the Cincinnati Reds was the Gold Glove catcher in 2017.
After signing a three-year contract extension, which he says will be the last of his career, Molina had another solid season both at the plate and behind it. He batted .261 with 20 home runs and 74 RBIs. His fielding percentage was nearly perfect at .998 and reflects just two errors over 1,101 changes. Molina also had 42 assists even though he missed three weeks of the season after a particularly gruesome injury.
During a May 5 game against the Chicago Cubs, a 102 mph fastball from rookie reliever Jordan Hicks was redirected by a foul tip off the bat of Kris Bryant. The ball struck Molina in the groin, requiring surgical repair of a “traumatic hematoma.”
Molina was the only Cardinals player to win a Gold Glove this season. The team hasn’t had multiple winners since 2015 when Molina and outfielder Jason Heyward were selected.
Two others St. Louis players, however, were considered contenders this season.
Second baseman Kolten Wong, sixth in baseball with a 2.3 Defensive Wins Above Replacement and was best among second basemen with 19 Defensive Runs Saved. The Colorado Rockies’ DJ LeMahieu won his third consecutive Gold Glove at second base.
Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader posted a 3.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 132 games since an early promotion from triple-A Memphis. The Braves’ Ender Inciarte was the National League recipient in center field.
2018 Gold Glove Winners
(With player, team and Gold Gloves won)
P — Zack Greinke, Arizona, 5
C — Yadier Molina, St. Louis, 9
1B — Anthony Rizzo, Chicago, 2;Freddie Freeman, Altanta, 1
2B — DJ LeMahieu, Colorado, 3
3B — Nolan Arenado, Colorado, 6
SS — Nick Ahmed, Arizona, 1
LF — Corey Dickerson, Pittsburgh, 1
CF — Ender Inciarte, Atlanta, 3
RF — Nick Markakis, Atlanta, 3
P — Dallas Keuchel, Houston, Arizona, 4
C — Salvador Perez, Kansas City, 5
1B — Matt Olson, Oakland, 1
2B — Ian Kinsler, Los Angeles/Boston, 2
3B — Matt Chapman, Oakland, 1
SS — Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles, 4
LF — Alex Gordon, Kansas City, 6
CF — Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston, 1
RF — Mookie Betts, Boston, 3