Thursday, April 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Kevin Kiermaier wins second Gold Glove Award

If there was ever a year Kevin Kiermaier felt he should win the Gold Glove Award, it was in 2015, when he exploded on the scene and turned the defensive metrics upside down.

But this past season, after missing 48 games with two broken bones in his left hand, the Rays centerfielder felt his chances rested with his reputation.

That reputation remains golden.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Drew Smyly greets Kevin Kiermaier after Kiermaier caught a fly ball by Eric Hosmer in August

Kiermaier is the top centerfielder in the American League for the second straight year in the eyes of the AL managers and coaches, who comprised 75 percent of the vote. The other 25 percent was based on defensive metrics.

"When I saw that I was the happiest man on this planet," Kiermaier said. "The amount of time that I missed was the only thing holding me back. Other than that I felt by far I'm the best defensive centerfielder in baseball. It's my award to win. That's the way I feel. If it's truly a defensive award, right now, barring something crazy happening I don't feel anyone else should get this above me."

Kiermaier said receiving the award was "an absolute honor," adding that when he heard the news Monday (the award was officially announced Tuesday night) he was on "cloud nine."

"This makes my offseason," he said.

Associated Press

Kevin Kiermaier makes a leaping catch on a flyout to deep center off the bat of Brock Holt of the Red Sox in April

That Kiermaier won the award in a season in which he missed a chunk of time with an injury means the conversation about the top centerfielders in the league now begins with him.

"Yes," Kiermaier said, "and that's something I can't really say I envisioned happened coming up through the minor leagues, but that's the way it is now, and now that I have this reputation it's awesome, because I worked so hard. This award is the best of the best."

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Kevin Kiermaier makes a catch on a fly ball by Adam Jones of the Orioles in April

Kiermaier finished ahead of finalists Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays and Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Red Sox.

Bradley played 156 games. Pillar played in 146. Kiermaier played in only 105, which created a small amount of doubt in his mind that he would win the award.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Kevin Kiermaier hauls in a fly ball by Nolan Reimold of the Orioles in July

But despite missing those 48 games, Kiermaier still led AL centerfielders with 25 defensive runs saved. His 175 putouts were second to Seattle's Leonys Martin, who made 192 in 142 games. After returning from the disabled list, Kiermaier tied Houston's Jake Marisnick for the most outfield assists among AL centerfielders with seven.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Kevin Kiermaier settles under a fly ball hit by Brian Dozier of the Twins in August

Kiermaier said that made winning his second Gold Glove more special than the first time.

The first one was clinched when Kiermaier jumped above the centerfield wall in Baltimore to rob Manny Machado of a home run.

The second one was based on the reputation Kiermaier has worked so hard to craft.

"The managers and coaches around the league still know that I'm the biggest threat against them out there," he said, "and I appreciate them not holding (the missed time) against me."

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