ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays pride themselves on their defense.
So they felt pretty good Thursday when they had three finalists for American League Gold Glove awards.
Leftfielder Randy Arozarena, centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier and third baseman Joey Wendle were among the top three finishers at their positions. The winners will be announced Nov. 7 at 8:30 p.m (ESPN).
“Very reflective of how hard the players work on their defense on a daily basis, it’s nice that all three of them are being recognized,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s very cool. … Good for all of them.”
Arozarena could have had a bigger Thursday, as he was among the finalists for two AL top rookie awards but did not win either.
Baltimore first baseman/leftfielder/designated hitter Ryan Mountcastle was voted the winner of the Players Choice award, and Texas outfielder Adolis Garcia won The Sporting News award. The biggest rookie award, presented by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, will be announced on Nov. 15.
Gold Glove winners are determined through a combination of votes by league managers and coaches, which account for 75 percent of the selection, and a sabermetric component.
Kiermaier is a three-time Gold Glove winner, most recently in 2019. This is the first top-three finish for Arozarena and Wendle.
Arozarena, in his first full big-league season, made 69 starts and 12 other appearances in leftfield. He made one error in 114 chances and threw out four runners, though he was at times replaced late in games by even better defenders, Manuel Margot or Brett Phillips. He is competing with Kansas City’s Andrew Benintendi and Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who led all leftfielders with 12 assists.
Kiermaier, one of the game’s top defensive players, made 101 starts and 15 other appearances in centerfield, making one error in 231 chances, with one assist. He is competing with Houston/Cleveland’s Myles Straw and Kansas City’s Michael A. Taylor, who on Thursday won the Fielding Bible award for the top centerfielder in either league.
Wendle, an All-Star for the first time in 2021, made 82 starts and 25 other appearances at third base, making 11 errors in 268 chances for a .959 fielding percentage. He is competing with Oakland’s Matt Chapman, a two-time winner, and Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez.
The Rays have had nine Gold Glove winners total and more than one in a year only once, when leftfielder Carl Crawford and third baseman Evan Longoria both got gold in 2010.
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Houston’s Kyle Tucker, a Plant High product, is a finalist for the rightfield award.
Cash gets manager award
Cash was named the top AL manager for the third straight year in a vote of his peers for The Sporting News, named on 75 percent of the ballots cast. Since the award was first given out in 1936, only one other manager won more consecutively, as Atlanta’s Bobby Cox won for four straight years, from 2002-05.
Cash, who led the Rays to an AL-best 100-62 regular-season record, is expected to be a strong candidate for a second straight BBWAA award, which will be announced on Nov. 16.
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