For the first time in five years, gold has returned to the Braves outfield.
Jason Heyward won the Gold Glove Award for National League right fielders on Tuesday, the first Brave to win a Gold Glove since outfielders Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur won in 2007.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and the entire Atlanta starting outfield were nominated for Gold Gloves this year, with Martin Prado among the finalists in left field and Michael Bourn in center. Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez won in left and Pittsburgh’s Andruw McCutchen in center, denying Bourn what would’ve been his third Gold Glove in four years.
Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, a former Brave, beat out Freeman and Cincinnati’s Joey Votto.
The win by Heyward, 23, was no surprise. He already won the Fielding Bible Award as the majors’ best right fielder for 2012. That award was based solely on statistical analysis, while the Gold Glove awards are determined in voting by major league managers and coaches.
“He’s the best I’ve ever seen in right field going back on a baseball,” Braves veteran backup catcher David Ross said of Heyward. “It may be because of his height and speed combined. He can really go back. And it allows him to play a shallow right field, which I like as a catcher because I want my pitcher to be rewarded and not give up so many hits on bloopers and broken bats.”
Heyward is 6 feet 5 and one of the fastest players on the team. Braves third-base coach Brian Snitker said late in the season that Heyward played so well this season and was so clearly deserving of the award, that Snitker would boycott the voting in the future if Heyward didn’t win.
In his third major league season, he won the Gold Glove over Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce and the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier.
Heyward’s 11 outfield assists tied San Francisco’s Hunter Pence for the NL lead among right fielders, and Heyward made only five errors for the third-best fielding percentage among NL right fielders while making far more plays than any of the other leaders in the category.
The Reds led the majors with six Gold Glove finalists, while the Braves were second in the NL with four. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina won his fifth consecutive Gold Glove.
Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, a former Georgia Tech star, won his second consecutive American League Gold Glove, and former Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira won his fifth.
In a surprise decision, Baltimore’s Adam Jones beat out Angels rookie sensation Mike Trout for the AL Gold Glove in center field.