Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre has won a Rawlings Gold Glove at third base for the 2011 season.
It’s Beltre’s third Gold Glove award (he won in Seattle in 2007 and 2008). He is the first Rangers third baseman to win a Gold Glove since Buddy Bell won the last of his six in 1984. Beltre is also the first Rangers player to win the award since Michael Young earned his in 2008 at shortstop. Managers and coaching staffs vote for the winners and can’t vote for players on their own team.
“It means a lot,” Beltre said. “To be chosen as one of the best in the league defensively is a nice accomplishment. It's part of the game I take a lot of pride in.”
Beltre, 32, has long been considered one of the top defensive third baseman in the game. And the numbers in 2011 show that he was again this past season. He led all AL third baseman with 17 defensive runs saved. He was first in ultimate zone rating, second in zone rating, second in fielding percentage and third in total chances per nine innings.
The veteran joined the Rangers prior to the 2011 season, signing a five-year, $80 million contract with a vesting option for a sixth year at $16 million. The idea was that he’d improve the overall infield defense -- and he certainly did that. He smothered balls at third base all season and covered so much ground that it allowed Elvis Andrus to cheat a little bit toward the second base bag on many balls, helping the infield earn more chances to get outs.
Beltre is the second Gold Glove winner under the watch of manager Ron Washington. Eric Chavez, who won the award while Washington was the third base coach and infield instructor in Oakland, gives Washington a lot of credit for helping him earn that honor. Beltre was quick to praise his coaching staff.
“The whole coaching staff is about teaching you how to play the game right and the way they go about their business helps you to get better,” Beltre said. “I found that out the first week of spring training how much Wash was into playing defense. He stressed that.”
Beltre said he doesn’t play the game for individual awards and thinks he can still improve defensively.
One area in particular is making solid throws. He said he did a better job of that in 2011, but that at times he’d rush a throw and get a little overaggressive and that would cause issues.
“There are a lot of things I still believe I can get better at,” Beltre said. “Playing defense is not easy and it comes with a lot of work. When you win a Gold Glove, you still want to get better.”
Beltre talked also about how impressed he was with teammates Ian Kinsler at second base and Elvis Andrus at short.
"I didn't know how good they were before I got here," Beltre said. "I knew Ian was good. I didn't know he was that good. Elvis has a ton of talent and he can be a lot better. He has range and the communication we had there, it was easier for me to know which balls I should dive for or where to play against that guy because he can cover that area. It's nice to have that type of guy beside you."
Asked to name his top play of the year, Beltre couldn't.
"I’d probably think more about which plays I should have made than those I did," he said.