By MARC TOPKIN
Watching the Rays play defense was not always a rewarding experience, though by some measure — specifically the Defensive Runs Saved metric compiled by fangraphs.com — they were the tidiest team in the majors this season, at plus-51.
And now by another somewhat arbitrary, albeit well-recognized, standard, two of their players were rewarded — third baseman Evan Longoria and pitcher Alex Cobb named Gold Glove finalists.
Longoria, who won the award in 2009-10, is joined by Baltimore’s Manny Machado (winner in 2013, 2015) and Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez, who split his season between third and second base.
Longoria had fewer errors than Machado (12-14) and more DRS (11-6), though he trailed in Ultimate Zone Rating metric, 3.2 to 4.7. Ramirez, in lesser duty at third, had six errors, 0 DRS and a 3.8 UZR
"I’ve always said that even when I struggle offensively I want my defense to help the team. Being nominated is nice,’’ said Longoria, thanking former bench coach Tom Foley for his help and hard work.
Judging pitchers defense is less scientific, but Cobb had an AL co-leading five pickoffs and three errors, honored with Boston’s Chris Sale (no pickoffs, no errors) and Toronto’s Marcus Stroman (one, one).
"It really means a lot to be recognized for something I take so much pride in," Cobb said. "I’ve always considered fielding my position a major part of being a complete pitcher."
Rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. seemed a candididate, but Anaheim’s Kole Calhoun, Boston’s Mookie Betts and New York’s Aaron Judge were selected.
Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who missed time due to injury after winning in 2015-16, was ineligible based on award requirements for innings played in the team’s first 138 games. ("I accept this, and it’s a very fair rule,’’ he tweeted.)
Gold Gloves are awarded based on a combination of voting (by managers and coaches) and a sabermetric component. Winners will be announced Nov. 7.
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.