Introducing: The 2011 MLB Gold Glove Winners.

Now that the World Series has finished and Major League Baseball as officially entered into the off-season (which makes me depressed), it is now time to recognize certain players for their extraordinary play. The award giving was kicked off earlier this week with the presentation of Gold Gloves to the players who had the best defensive years. The honor was given to the following ballplayers:

American League:

P: Mark Buehrle

C: Matt Wieters

1B: Adrian Gonzalez

2B: Dustin Pedroia

3B: Adrian Beltre

SS: Erick Aybar

OF: Alex Gordon, Jacoby Ellsbury, Nick Markakis

National League:

P: Clayton Kershaw

C: Yadier Molina

1B: Joey Votto

2B: Brandon Phillips

3B: Placido Polanco

SS: Troy Tulowitzki

OF: Gerardo Parra, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier

I enjoy seeing who wins Gold Gloves each year because it’s truly a testament to a complete player. Being a solid defensive player can be tough when you’re going through a bad slump at the plate, but not taking it out into the field with you shows a player with a lot of character and pride. Both the Dodgers and Red Sox were represented well, with three Gold Glove winners for each team. It was the first time the Dodgers had three winners all in one year, and the first time the Red Sox have accomplished the feat in over 30 years.

Some players returned to being the top defensive player at their position after a small hiatus; Dustin Pedroia won for the first time since his MVP year in 2008, Beltre snagged his third award, but first since 2008 as well. Adrian Gonzalez now has three Gold Gloves, but his first in the American League.  Mark Buehrle continues his dominance into his free agent year with this third straight Gold Glove and Yadier Molina has now won the award four years in a row, the first time that’s been accomplished in the NL since Charles Johnson in the late ‘90s.

What I noticed is that there were quite a few new faces being represented in this group as opposed to last year. In the National League, Albert Pujols, Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino, Carlos Gonzalez, and Scott Rolen all couldn’t repeat. On the AL side, Joe Mauer, Carl Crawford, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Evan Longoria, Ichiro, and Franklin Gutierrez didn’t receive enough votes from other managers and coaches from around their league.

What I find interesting is the clause in player’s contracts that give them a bonus for winning the award. The ESPN article I read listed the following bonuses:

Adrian Beltre and Adrian Gonzalez: $100,000

Erick Aybar and Nick Markakis: $75,000

Yadier Molina, Dustin Pedroia, Placido Polanco, and Joey Votto: $50,000

Troy Tulowitzki and Mark Buehrle: $25,000

That’s a nice motivator to stay dedicated to one’s defense. Yes, I do realize that the Silver Slugger awards were handed out last night and I haven’t said a word about it, but that’s because we focus so much during the year on offense that I see the Silver Sluggers as a great award, but not as well deserving as a Gold Glove. Plus, I think that the best hitters in each league were the ones that were among the league leaders in batting average, hits, home runs, and RBI. We don’t focus on defense nearly as much as offense, so I think that the Gold Glove awards are something that players take more pride in than a Silver Slugger. Thoughts?