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West is best for Gold Glove Awards
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11/04/2003  7:10 PM ET 
West is best for Gold Glove Awards
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Angels catcher Bengie Molina won his second Gold Glove Award on Tuesday. (AP)
Once again, the lineup of American League Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners is decidedly tilted toward the West with an increasing stronghold in Seattle.

Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki and Oakland A's third baseman Eric Chavez, a pair of three-time winners, lead an AL West contingent that this year represents seven of the nine selections announced Tuesday. Last year, eight of the nine selections were from the AL West.

Ichiro was one of four Mariners to win Gold Gloves this year, joining first baseman John Olerud, second baseman Bret Boone and center fielder Mike Cameron. It marked the first time since the 1975 Baltimore Orioles that an AL team has had as many as four Gold Glove winners in the same season.

"If you ask anyone in baseball who had the best defensive team in the game, they would say us," Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. "It's fitting that we had four."

2003 Gold Glove winners
 C Bengie Molina, ANA
1B John Olerud, SEA
2B Bret Boone, SEA
3B Eric Chavez, OAK
SS Alex Rodriguez, TEX
OF Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
OF Mike Cameron, SEA
OF Torii Hunter, MIN
P Mike Mussina, NYY
C Mike Matheny, STL
1B Derrek Lee, FLA
2B Luis Castillo, FLA
3B Scott Rolen, STL
SS Edgar Renteria, STL
OF Andruw Jones, ATL
OF Jose Cruz Jr., SF
OF Jim Edmonds, STL
P Mike Hampton, ATL

Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina claimed his sixth Gold Glove in the last eight years, and Minnesota outfielder Torii Hunter earned his third consecutive fielding award. But other than that it was all AL West.

Seattle's Olerud and Boone, Anaheim catcher Bengie Molina and Texas shortstop Alex Rodriguez all repeated their 2002 honors; this is the third Gold Glove for both Olerud and Boone and the second for both Molina and Rodriguez. Cameron made it four Mariners among the Gold Glovers as he claimed his second prize in the last three years.

Seattle set a Major League record for fewest errors in a 162-game season in 2003, committing just 65 errors, five fewer than the 1999 Mets. The miscues led to just 34 unearned runs the entire season, eight fewer than the Dodgers and Twins.

The Mariners ended their 93-win season with a .989 team fielding percentage, committing 20 fewer errors than the Twins, who ranked second in the AL in defense.

The cornerstone of an outfield that also included Randy Winn for what most consider the best threesome in baseball, Ichiro led all AL right fielders with 12 assists in '03 while making just two errors. That made for a .994 fielding percentage, which tied Magglio Ordonez of the White Sox for the AL lead.

Meanwhile, Cameron was the busiest center fielder in the AL with 492 total chances, and his .992 fielding percentage ranked third behind Johnny Damon (370 total chances) and Bernie Williams (294) at .997.

    Bret Boone   /   2B
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 180
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
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Stats
Hit chart
Mariners site

On the golden right side of the Seattle infield, Boone committed just seven errors in 701 total chances, finishing with a .990 fielding percentage, which tied Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy (six errors in 612 total chances) for first place in the AL. Olerud also ranked at the top of the class among first basemen with three errors in 1,224 chances for a .998 fielding percentage.

In winning his third consecutive award, Oakland's Chavez led all Major League third basemen and posted career highs in total chances with 482 and putouts with 125 while tying for the big-league lead in double plays with 33. Chavez finished the season with a .971 fielding percentage, which ranked third among regular American League third basemen behind Kansas City's Joe Randa (.980) and Minnesota's Corey Koskie.

    Torii Hunter   /   CF
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 205
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
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Stats
Hit chart
Twins site

Hunter, who joins Ichiro and Chavez as winners of three consecutive awards, doesn't make a splash with his fielding percentage, but more than makes up for that by covering ground and air. His .991 ranked 10th among AL outfielders, but he definitely made his mark with spectacular grabs over the fence and in the gaps, robbing what would be extra-base hits with alarming regularity.

"I have to be excited to get three Gold Gloves in a row," Hunter said. "I never thought I'd get one. Defense is what got me to the big leagues. You have to keep that going."

    Bengie Molina   /   C
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 200
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
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Stats
Splits
Hit chart
Angels site

Molina ranked second in the American League in caught-stealing percentage, tossing out 31 of 76 attempted-base stealers (41 percent). He registered a .993 fielding percentage, committing five errors in 740 total chances before suffering a fractured left wrist in a home plate collision with Dustan Mohr, Sept. 3 at Minnesota.

"What (Molina) does with the staff and what he does behind the plate are incredibly valuable to the team," Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a former catcher himself.

Rodriguez, who last year stopped Omar Vizquel's nine-year Gold Glove reign at shortstop, committed eight errors in 699 chances in 2003 for a career-high .989 fielding percentage, tops among AL shortstops and the best in club history. Rodriguez finished third in the American League in total chances, putouts with 227, and assists with 464. He also combined with second baseman Michael Young to lead the American League in double plays with 111.

    Alex Rodriguez   /   3B
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 210
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
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Stats
Splits
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Yankees site

All of which has little to do with his status as perhaps the top overall offensive performer in the game today.

"Sometimes you get overlooked when you are an offensive player and put up offensive numbers," Rodriguez said. "I take great pride in this award. I think brings validity to first one. I think any time you back something up, it's not a coincidence. It's something more factual."

In addition to his second Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award, Rodriguez also won his third consecutive Hank Aaron Award as the best offensive player in the American League and was named the recipient of both the Oscar Charleston and the Josh Gibson Legacy Awards from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum at the conclusion of the 2003 season. He's also among the favorites for the AL MVP award, to be announced Nov. 17.

"That's an award that I have pretty much given up on," Rodriguez quipped Tuesday. "If I finished second or third for 10 to 15 years, that has to be equivalent to one."

    Mike Mussina   /   P
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 185
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Yankees site

A-Rod might have the biggest overall collection of hardware, but no one among this group has more Gold Gloves than Mussina. The Yankees right-hander fielded his 49 chances flawlessly during the 2003 season to add a sixth Gold Glove to his personal trophy case. The only other pitcher to win a Gold Glove since Mussina won his first with the Orioles in 1996 is Kenny Rogers (2002, 2000). With six, he's now behind only Jim Kaat (14) and Mark Langston (seven) for the most by an AL pitcher.

The Gold Glove Award winners are selected the best at their respective positions by Major League coaches and managers prior to the conclusion of the regular season. Managers and coaches may not select players from their own club and only vote for players in their own league.

The National League winners will be announced Wednesday.

John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.







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