Results tagged ‘ Rawlings Gold Glove ’

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #11

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In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#11: The Return of The Rock

The Nationals made a number of additions this offseason, but arguably their most important transaction was simply making sure that one of their own stayed right where he belonged. Coming off a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger-winning campaign that earned him a sixth-place finish in the National League MVP race, Adam LaRoche’s return to the Nationals ensures one of the team’s best players on the field and best people off of it remains in Washington.

Non-baseball fans who know of LaRoche only from his television show Buck Commander may not realize the veteran’s significance to this young Nationals squad. Aside from the power bat that carried them when other starters were injured in 2012, LaRoche’s sure and steady hands at first base made the whole infield around him better defensively.

In his spare time, LaRoche works heavily with service members, particularly Wounded Warriors upon their return to civilian life. His influence as an experienced ballplayer and stand-up member of the community is a key component as the Nationals look to defend their National League East crown.

The Rock Returns

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The Nationals agreed to terms on a two-year contract with a third year mutual option with free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche on Tuesday. The 33-year-old is coming off a stellar 2012 campaign in which he led the club with 100 RBI and a career-high 33 home runs, earning both the National League Silver Slugger Award and his first career Gold Glove.

LaRoche led the Nationals in home runs and RBI in 2012.

LaRoche led the Nationals in home runs and RBI in 2012.

A nine-year Major League veteran, the left-handed slugger has hit 20 or more home runs six times, totaling 197 for his career. LaRoche played a key role in Washington’s 2012 NL East title run, playing in 154 games, second only to Danny Espinosa’s 160 appearances. He finished the regular season particularly strong, swatting 10 home runs with a .324/.390/.667 slash line over 30 games in September/October.

LaRoche’s return solidifies the Nationals for the near future in more ways than one. With LaRoche at first base, Washington infield defense ranks among the strongest in the game, with super defenders up the middle in Espinosa and Ian Desmond and another former Gold Glove winner at third base in Ryan Zimmerman. LaRoche also provides a second left-handed power bat to complement Bryce Harper in the middle of the Washington order, providing tremendous balance for a team that ranked fourth in OPS and second in home runs in the National League last year.

Finally, the Nationals will welcome the return of LaRoche’s veteran presence in the clubhouse. A leader on the field and an example off of it for the youngest team in the Major Leagues in 2012, “The Rock” is back, which should be an encouraging sign for Nationals fans everywhere.

Good Things Come In Threes

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Awards season has never meant as much to the Washington Nationals as it does this year. As you may have heard, a trio of Nats were named finalists Wednesday night for several prominent National League awards by the Baseball Writers Association of America: Gio Gonzalez for Cy Young, Bryce Harper for the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year, and Davey Johnson for Manager of the Year. Whether or not those three take home their respective awards next week, their nominations as finalists are indicative of the tremendous seasons they all had.

LaRoche, Strasburg and Desmond each took home their first Silver Slugger Award.

There is another set of awards – for a completely separate trio of Nationals –doled out earlier tonight. Washington earned three Silver Slugger nods, the first such awards taken home by any Nationals since Ryan Zimmerman’s second straight honor in 2010. This year, while Zim was denied by a tremendous season from Padres third baseman Chase Headley, Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche and Stephen Strasburg each took home the hardware as the best hitter at his respective position in the National League.

LaRoche’s selection was a no-brainer. He led all qualifying NL first basemen in hits (155), home runs (career-high 33), RBI (100), slugging percentage (.510) and OPS (.853). It may surprise some to know that the Silver Slugger is the first of the nine-year veteran’s career, but at a premium offensive position like first base, the competition is always stiff. LaRoche can place it on the mantle next to his Gold Glove, also the first of his career, which he was awarded last week.

Desmond’s win may be even more impressive, given the time he spent both on the Disabled List and playing at less than 100 percent this year. Despite playing as many as 32 games fewer than some of his fellow position-mates, Desmond led NL shortstops in home runs (career-high 25) to go along with a .292 average, .511 slugging percentage and .845 OPS. With his continued development over a full season next year, this could be just the first of many awards for the 27 year-old.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the three, though, is Strasburg, who entered 2012 batting just .038 (1-for-26) with 10 strikeouts in his Major League career. He made significant strides at the plate, compiling a .277/.333/.426 line with a league-high four doubles, one home run and seven RBI. Strasburg even batted .308 with runners in scoring position, as he developed into yet another offensive weapon at the bottom of the lineup.

2012 Player Review: Ian Desmond

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The Washington Nationals enjoyed unprecedented success in 2012, recording the best record in Major League Baseball. The team relied on the contributions of many different players, whom we will catalogue throughout the offseason as we look ahead to the 2013 campaign. Our list continues with the emerging talent up the middle, Ian Desmond.

We’ve written several times in this space about the candidacy of Adam LaRoche as the Most Valuable Player, not just for the 2012 Nationals, but for the entire National League. However, if any Washington position player could challenge LaRoche for that title, it would be the Nationals 2012 breakout star, Ian Desmond.

Ian Desmond emerged as an NL All-Star and clubhouse leader in 2012.

After flashing signs of his potential during a 2009 September call-up (where he went .280/.318/.561 with seven doubles and four homers in 82 at-bats), the shortstop’s numbers fell short of those levels in his first two full Major League seasons. All of that changed in 2012, though, as the 27 year-old saw his talents at the plate and in the field come together to land him an All-Star selection. Despite playing through an oblique injury that hampered his production towards the end of the season’s first half and sidelined him for nearly a month in July and August, Desmond still posted career highs in hits (150), doubles (33), home runs (25), runs scored (72) and RBI (73). His OPS+ of 126 was higher than Ryan Zimmerman’s, Bryce Harper’s and Jayson Werth’s, ranking just slightly behind LaRoche for the team lead.

For some greater perspective on the caliber of Desmond’s season, consider the following. Despite playing just 130 games, he was one of only seven National Leaguers (and the only National) to post a 20-20 season, joining reigning MVP Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Heyward, Andrew McCutchen, Hanley Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins.

Gio Gonzalez flashes his favorite clubhouse shirt, depicting Desmond as a super hero, cape and all.

And while his overall numbers were solid in their own right, Desmond seemed to come up biggest whenever the pressure was turned up. Until Werth’s thunderous, walk-off home run ended Game 4 of the NLDS, Desmond’s come-from-behind, game-winning blast with two outs in the ninth inning on May 2 to beat the Diamondbacks was Washington’s lone walk-off home run of the season. The shortstop also drove in 31 of his 73 RBI (42.5%) with two outs, including three from the eighth inning on in a rousing, 12-inning victory over the Mets on June 5.

And then, of course, there was the defense. After committing 34 errors in his first full season in 2010, Desmond cut that number to 23 the following campaign and again down to 15 this year. His improved consistency, along with his proclivity for highlight reel plays, earned him a Gold Glove finalist nomination. Desmond’s pure athleticism and reflexes led to tremendous plays like the one below, also part of that June 5 performance:

He showed off his range as well this year, with diving grabs like this one in September:

Desmond carried his success into the postseason, staking claim as Washington’s most consistent hitter in the NLDS. He batted .368 (7-for-19) in his first taste of playoff action, continuing to emerge as a leader for this young Nationals squad.

As a player just entering the prime of his career, there is no reason to believe Desmond’s 2012 season was a fluke, and if he is able to play a full season in 2013, the Florida native will have a chance to improve upon the benchmarks he set this year. As he enters arbitration for the first time this year, he remains under team control for the next three seasons, giving Nationals fans at least that much time to watch him continue to grow into his full potential.

Some Golden Love

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The accolades began to roll in Tuesday night for the Nationals tremendous 2012 season. Rawlings announced that Adam LaRoche has been awarded the 2012 National League Gold Glove at first base. It is the first such award for the nine-year Major League veteran, who logged a .995 fielding percentage as the anchor of the Washington infield, committing just seven errors in over 1,320 innings played.

Perhaps LaRoche’s greatest defensive value lies in his ability to help his fellow infielders out by being a great defensive receiver on throws across the infield. Whether picking balls off the short-hop or crossing the bag into foul ground – as he does masterfully in the clip below – few are as solid and as smooth as LaRoche at helping their teammates.

However, LaRoche can also flash the leather on his own, as he showed on the play below in extra innings against the Braves back in August.

Congrats to Adam LaRoche for a well-deserved award, hopefully the first of many for Nationals players, coaches and executives following this historic season.

30 Players in 30 Days: Ryan Zimmerman

Ryan Zimmerman

 


080509-016_ryan_zimmerman.JPGIt is official. Zimmerman can now decorate his mantel with a Rawlings Gold Glove.

 

It was hardly a surprise but it was by no means a guarantee when the official announcement was made that he won the first Gold Glove of his career. It is always tough to speculate how players and managers will vote: reputation, performance, spectacular plays or fewest errors? Traditionally, reputation trumps numbers.

 

Zimmerman ranked among league leaders in total chances (MLB-best 459), total chances per 9.0 innings (second in NL, 3.09), assists (MLB-best 325) and putouts (third in NL, 117). For what it’s worth, he was the leading contributor to ESPN’s nightly Web Gems segment too–typically the top-five best, most acrobatic, spectacular defensive plays of the day. At the same time, he committed 17 errors and posted a .963 fielding percentage. Of the 17 errors, 13 were throwing and four were with the glove.

 

But as we’ve documented before, those superficial defensive stats only tell a fraction of the story. Zimmerman might as well be a black hole at third base, he has unrivaled range and sucks up everything hit in his direction.

 

Just a day after receiving his first Gold Glove award, Zimmerman’s mantel got a little more crowded when he was honored with his first Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger award. He provided it all season long at the plate and was recognized for it.

 

On May 9, the Nationals were clinging to a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth in Arizona. Zimmerman was 0-for-3 and at the plate with his 26-game hit streak on the line. He didn’t waste any time extending it. He hammered the first pitch from Juan Gutierrez over the center field fence to give the Nats a 2-0 lead and extend the hit streak to 27-games. They won 2-1.

 

Zimmerman put up career numbers in 2009: a .292 average, 33 home runs, 106 RBI and 110 runs but there is one statistic that stands out. He cemented himself into Washington baseball history with a 30-game hit streak during the first month of the season. The streak started the second game of the season on April 8 and ended on May 13, with a 0-for-3, one-run, two-walk performance at San Francisco–not a terrible day at the park either. During the streak, he batted .382 (50-for-131) with 11 doubles, eight home runs, 26 RBI, 11 walks and 26 runs. It is the longest streak in Nationals history, longest streak for a third baseman since Royal’s Hall-of-Famer George Brett posted a 30-game hit streak in 1980 and third longest streak in DC baseball history behind the 33-game streak by Heinie Manush in 1933 and 31-game streak by Sam Rice in 1924. The hit streak propelled Zimmerman into the Mid-Summer Classic for the first time in his career.

 

The Nationals made sure to lock up the face of the franchise in 2009 and they did on April 20. Zimmerman is signed through 2013 but he doesn’t want to wait any longer to produce a winning ballclub. The 2010 Nationals will ride Zim’s glove and bat all season long.

 

Ryan Zimmerman Final Stats

G

AB

R

H

TB

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

SB

CS

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

157

610

110

178

320

37

3

33

106

72

9

119

2

0

.292

.364

.525

.888

Zimmerman Gold Glove-caliber photos and quotes

ryan zimmerman photo credit Ezra Shaw Getty Images.jpg

“It’s hard to measure defense. Defense can be looked at so many different ways–whether you take away runs or you get to a bunch more balls or maybe it’s something else.” -RZ

 
093009-266 ryan zimmerman.JPG

“I try to get every single ball that comes my way. I think in the past that’s kind of hurt me a little bit–I get to many balls and instead of not throwing the ball I try to make the play. This year I learned when it’s smart to make the play and when it’s not. I think if you try to make every single play, it hurts the team more than it helps it.” -RZ

 
051909-137 ryan zimmerman.JPG

“I’ve only been playing third base for four years in the Big Leagues and two-and-a-half or three years in college, so it’s not a new position to me anymore but I think there are things to learn once you slide over there from shortstop. I played shortstop my whole life and you just fine tune things and make yourself better at each individual part of it.” -RZ

 
061909-115 ryan zimmerman.JPG

“I remember the last time I sat around and waited to see if I won something, I came up short to Hanley [Ramirez] in the Rookie of the Year. So, I’ve been just doing what I usually do and to hear this news is very exciting for me and my family.” -RZ

 
082009-436 ryan zimmerman.JPG

Zim wins first Gold Glove

090409-171 ryan zimmerman.JPGWashington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman today was named the recipient of the 2009 National League Rawlings Gold Glove for third basemen. The defensive citation is the first of Zimmerman’s career.

 

“Winning the Rawlings Gold Glove has always been important to me, as I take a lot of pride in my defense,” Zimmerman said. “When I was drafted by the Nationals, I was known as a defensive player first and there was a belief that my bat would mature with time and experience. But the core of my game has always been defense, so today is a special day.”

 

Zimmerman led all National League third basemen this season in total chances (MLB-best 459), assists (MLB-high 325), range factor per game (2.97) and games started (153). At 18.1, Zimmerman also paced NL third basemen in Ultimate Zone Rating, a figure that blends the number of runs above or below average a fielder is in three categories: range runs, double play runs and error runs combined. Zimmerman’s 18.1 rating ranked third in baseball among ALL position players at any of the nine positions.

 

Last month, ESPN named Zimmerman as its 2009 Web Gem Champion after he amassed 19 Web Gems and 61 Web Gem points during the 2009 campaign.

 

Zimmerman is only the second Washington-based Big Leaguer to earn a Rawlings Gold Glove. Senators catcher Earl Battey earned the first of his three career Gold Gloves in 1960, his lone season in Washington. Rawlings established the Gold Glove in 1957 to reward defensive excellence.

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