Giants, Cubs, Rangers had the Golden touch defensively in 2016

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The San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers were among the big winners at this year’s Gold Glove Awards.

Those three teams were the only ones to have multiple Gold Glove winners. The Giants led with three. The Cubs and Rangers each had two.

Defensive Giants among men

This is the first time the Giants had three winners since the 1994 season. The double-play combo of shortstop Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik became the fourth such tandem in National League history to win. They’re the first since Edgar Renteria and Fernando Vina won for the Cardinals in 2002.

Crawford’s selection was not a surprise, considering that he won last year. Panik’s first Gold Glove was unexpected. Panik is the first Giants second baseman to win since Robby Thompson in 1993. He’s the fifth different NL second baseman to win in the last five years.

Their teammate, catcher Buster Posey, ended the eight-year run of Yadier Molina. Posey is the third Giants catcher to win a Gold Glove Award, joining Kirt Manwaring (1993) and Mike Matheny (2005).

How did Posey win? He finished with 23 defensive runs saved, the most among catchers in the majors. He ranked as the game’s top pitch framer (meaning a catcher who gets “extra strikes” for his pitchers) and best defender of bunts at the position.

Cubs, Rangers take two

The Cubs had four finalists, tied for the most among teams, and won two awards -- Jason Heyward won in right field and Anthony Rizzo won at first base.

Heyward joined Andre Dawson (1987 and 1988) as the only Cubs right fielders to win the award. Heyward has now won four Gold Glove Awards. He led NL right fielders in defensive runs saved, and as per usual with him, he won on the strength of his range, excelling ratingwise in getting to balls hit to both the deepest and shallowest parts of the ballpark.

Rizzo won his first Gold Glove after leading NL first basemen in defensive runs saved. He joined Mark Grace (1992, 1993, 1995, 1996) and Derrek Lee (2005) as the only Cubs first basemen to win a Gold Glove.

From the Elias Sports Bureau, Jason Heyward is the 1st position player in MLB history to win 3 straight Gold Glove awards with 3 different teams.

The Rangers went two-for-two with their corner infielders each winning. First baseman Mitch Moreland won his first. Moreland joined Rafael Palmeiro (1999) and Mark Teixeira (2005-2006) as the only Rangers first basemen to win one. Moreland also snapped the three-year run at the position of Eric Hosmer.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre won his fifth Gold Glove, his first since 2012. He won on the strength of his work in guarding the third-base line, securing his best range rating on balls hit down the line since the 2006 season.

Two long streaks continue

With Yadier Molina dethroned, the two longest Gold Glove streaks now belong to Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, who each have won one in four straight years. Perez is the first AL catcher to win four straight since Ivan Rodriguez (1992 to 2001). He won on the strength of his throwing arm -- his six defensive runs saved just for his arm were one shy of his career high (7, 2012).

Arenado is the first third baseman to win four straight Gold Gloves since Eric Chavez won six straight (2001 to 2006). The Rockies have now won a Gold Glove in each of the last seven years.

Arenado had 75 good fielding plays (think “Web Gem-like” plays) in 2016. No other third baseman had more than 51. He won on his range, ranking nine plays above average on balls hit down the line (second in the majors to Beltre) and 12 above average on balls hit in the shortstop-third base hole (easily best in the majors).