Cabrera captures second Gold Glove
Angels coaches compare the shortstop to Wills, Aparicio
ANAHEIM -- For the second time in his career, Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera is the recipient of a Rawlings Gold Glove.On Tuesday afternoon, Cabrera was recognized for his superb 2007 season with his selection to the American League's honor list, supplanting the Yankees' Derek Jeter, who had won three consecutive Gold Gloves at shortstop. Cabrera was dependable and durable for the AL West Division champions, leading all AL shortstops in fielding percentage at .983 while playing in 155 games. He didn't make an error until May 4 against the Chicago White Sox, ending the longest errorless run in the Major Leagues by a shortstop. Cabrera has sustained excellence defensively since claiming his first Gold Glove in 2001 with the Montreal Expos. His .982 fielding percentage over the past three seasons is the best among all AL shortstops. "I just try to be consistent and play the game right," Cabrera said late in the season. "All I care about is winning, doing whatever I can to help my team. "I think I've had a good season, offensively and defensively. I take a lot of pride in my defense. It's the most consistent part of my game." Angels manager Mike Scioscia referred to Cabrera as the "glue" to the defense with his ability to make all the plays and provide leadership. "O.C.'s value to our club is tremendous, in every respect," Scioscia said. "He plays the game right, and he plays with passion." Among those who marvel at Cabrera's excellence are Angels first-base and infield coach Alfredo Griffin and front-office advisor Preston Gomez, a former Major League manager. Griffin played shortstop for 20 years in the Majors, claiming a Gold Glove in 1985, and Gomez has observed elite shortstops for more than six decades.
"He studies the game, knows the game," Griffin said of Cabrera. "He knows what the pitchers are going to throw, which allows him to position himself and anticipate. Plus, he has great hands. He never bobbles a ball -- unless it's a very bad hop.
|2007 Gold Glove winners|
|C||Ivan Rodriguez, DET|
|1B||Kevin Youkilis, BOS|
|2B||Placido Polanco, DET|
|3B||Adrian Beltre, SEA|
|SS||Orlando Cabrera, LAA|
|OF||Ichiro Suzuki, SEA|
|OF||Torii Hunter, MIN|
|OF||Grady Sizemore, CLE|
|P||Johan Santana, MIN|
|C||Russell Martin, LAD|
|1B||Derrek Lee, CHC|
|2B||Orlando Hudson, ARI|
|3B||David Wright, NYM|
|SS||Jimmy Rollins, PHI|
|OF||Carlos Beltran, NYM|
|OF||Andruw Jones, ATL|
|OF||Jeff Francoeur, ATL|
|OF||Aaron Rowand, PHI|
|P||Greg Maddux, SD|
"I was more aggressive, quicker side to side. It took me a while to have the intelligence to become a shortstop. I'd take sure hands and intelligence over range every time. And Orlando has the smartest glove."
Gomez, an invaluable resource for Scioscia, reaches back to two of the greats from the 1960s, Luis Aparicio and Maury Wills, for shortstops who brought the level of intelligence to the position that Cabrera does.
"From the neck up, this son of a gun is as good as any of them," Gomez said. "I just told him that the one thing you can't teach is instincts; he has that ability to understand the game, know where to be. Maury Wills was like that, and Aparicio was very smart.
"Orlando thinks like a manager. He's always studying the game, thinking about situations. Watch him in the dugout during a game, and he's always talking to somebody, a teammate, sharing some insight. He doesn't make mistakes. He's not as fast as some guys, but he's a great baserunner. Wills was like that. Aparicio, too."
For those who appreciate shortstops, compliments come no higher than being linked with Wills and Aparicio.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.