Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier was quite excited and quite proud to win his third AL Gold Glove award on Sunday.
Here are five more things about it:
* Knowing 75 percent of the decision is based on votes by AL managers and coaches makes the award even more meaningful to Kiermaier.
"You think about the process what it takes for me to win this award ... the 75 percent from the people on the other side of the diamond, seeing highlights and whatnot on TV, people who’ve been around the game years and years, to vote for me, and me to have that final nod, sometimes I can get choked up thinking about it,'' he said.
"Because, seriously, I don’t think anyone ever realizes how much it means to me. Recognition is a beautiful thing. All the hard work, what you’re doing behind closed doors, this is what fully shows, it’s the ultimate reward for how I handle myself each and every off-season, and each time I take the field, especially on that side of the ball. ... For them to throw out my name more than the other two nominees (Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Red Sox, Mike Trout of the Angels) was absolutely amazing. ... I can never thank those people enough.''
* He could have been better this year, logging six assists, making four errors, posting an AL centerfielder high 13 defensive runs saved per fangraphs.com’s metric.
"I don’t think my numbers will ever top what I did back in 2015 when I set the defensive runs saved record (with 42); I had so many opportunities where it seemed like every other day I was making a diving catch or throwing someone out,'' Kiermaier said. "This year, I didn’t feel like I had to dive hardly at all. It wasn’t because I was slower or I was faster. I just didn’t have opportunities. And I wanted them.
"Any time I had those plays I wanted to make them just to let people know, hey, I can still do this as good as anyone out here. That was a frustrating thing. I would always tell my wife about that. I’m like, come on, someone hit the ball in the gap where I have to lay out. Or let me throw someone out. It’s one of those things where third-base coaches, it seemed like they never sent anyone on me this year. I’m walking back to my position after those plays and I want them to send them. I want them to test me. That’s the confidence I have in my game.''
* His two favorite catches this year?
On May 27, running to left-center and making a leaping grab at the wall to deny Toronto’s Rowdy Tellez an extra-base hit.
On Aug. 12, racing to right-centerfield and leaping into the wall with his glove open to rob Francisco Mejia of a home run.
* Winning a Gold Glove on a team that made the playoffs was even more rewarding than his first two, Kiermaier said. And he felt he should have had company being honored, mentioning shortstop Willy Adames, right fielder Avisail Garcia and first baseman Ji-Man Choi as being worthy of consideration.
"I was shocked that a couple other guys on the team weren’t nominated,'' he said. "I hope they’re disappointed and upset about it (because it will be motivating). ... What we do out there is contagious, and any time I see someone make a nice play, I’m sitting out there saying I want to one-up them, I want to make a nice play, too. That’s how the whole demeanor was for the team the whole year. We always want to make each other better and we found certain ways to compete against each other out there on the field even though we’re all wearing the same jersey.''
* He plans to keep winning more Gold Gloves, noting that at 29 he is already working to "beat the aging curve’' by increasing his speed and explosiveness, knowing there are many other good centerfielders in the game.
"I want to be better,'' he said. "I never try to be cocky or arrogant. This is all me being truthful with what’s coming out of my mouth. And I’m not being biased because it’s myself that I’m talking about. I know that no one can replicate what I can do out there from a total package standpoint — with the jumps, reads, routes, arm strength, accuracy, the ability to go get it, make plays at the walls. All those come into play.
"And I’m playing under a white roof (at the Trop). I have the same conditions, I’m going to get true hops every day, but no one realizes how hard it is playing some of these balls playing 81 games a year here. I’m proud of what I do because I know the work I put in. And it’s already started a week ago, to have success from a team standpoint heading into next year and I want my reputation out there in centerfield until further notice. And I don’t plan on stopping what I’m doing anytime soon.''