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Five more things about Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier’s Gold Glove award

On being acknowledged by AL coaches, doing even better, his favorite catches, help from teammates, winning more
Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) catches a ball in the outfield at the top of the fifth inning against Cleveland Indians on Sunday, Sept. 01, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Published Nov. 4

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.''

RELATED How Kevin Kiermaier won the AL Gold Glove

* 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.''

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash talks with reporters in the dugout the day after clinching a playoff spot. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Ray Rocco Baldelli wins top honors after his first season with the Twins.
  2. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, addresses the media during a press conference at Tropicana Field Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Award came from a vote of team executives; Yankees Cashman was second.
  3. Flanked by his mother, Michelle Alonso, left, father Peter Alonso (blue shirt, standing), girlfriend Haley Walsh, right, and friends, New York Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso, 24, reacts as he finds out he has won the National League Rookie of the Year award on Monday at his home in Tampa.  Alonso, a Plant High graduate, made a grand entrance to the big leagues, hitting a major-league rookie and team-record 53 home runs for the Mets. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The easiest part of the day for the travel-weary first baseman may have been receiving the prestigious award.
  4. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash speaks at a news conference before an Oct. 1 American League wild-card game practice in Oakland, Calif. JEFF CHIU  |  AP
    Marc Topkin: The Twins Rocco Baldelli and Yankees Aaron Boone are the other two finalists for the hard-to-define award.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8) is showered with sunflower seeds after hitting a solo homer in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
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  6. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, says of the general manager meetings, which start this week, "We’d love to find a way to score a lot more runs without sacrificing run prevention.'' DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays Tales: Erik Neander says 2019 success provides “a stronger starting point” than they have had in a while. Plus, rumblings.
  7. Manager Kevin Cash has led the Rays to back-to-back seasons of 90 or more victories. He finished third in the American League Manager of the Year voting in 2018 and is one of three finalists again this year with the winner being announced on Tuesday. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    John Romano: His profile is as low as Tampa Bay’s payroll, but AL Manager of the Year candidate Kevin Cash consistently gets the most out of the Rays.
  8. ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times
Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro (33) talks to umpire Bruce Dreckman at the bottom of the fourth inning against Texas Rangers on Sunday, June 30, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. 
 ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The other finalists, per a report, are Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.
  9. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16) pumps his fist while walking onto the field just prior to taking on the Houston Astros for Game 3 of the American League Division Series in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Charlie Morton is in the top 3 for the Cy Young Award and Brandon Lowe for Rookie of the Year honors as well.
  10. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16) smiles in the dugout just prior to the Rays taking on the Houston Astros in Game 2 of the American League Division Series Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 in Houston. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Manager Kevin Cash seems to have the best chance to be among the top three for the four major awards.
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