Torii Hunter of the Angels and Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners have long been considered the gold standard for defense -- and they have the hardware to prove it.
Hunter and Suzuki, each with nine Rawlings Gold Glove Awards -- the longest current streak in either league -- are on the doorstep of joining an elite group of the top defensive outfielders in Major League history.
Only Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays (12 each) and Ken Griffey Jr., Andruw Jones and Al Kaline (10 each) have won more Gold Gloves for outfield play.
Can Hunter and Suzuki reach double figures for Gold Gloves?
We'll find out on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ET, when the 2010 Rawlings American League Gold Glove Award winners, as voted by the managers and coaches in each league, are revealed.
The decision-making process is simple. Managers and coaches from all 30 teams must submit their votes by the end of the regular season. Votes are cast for the best defensive player at each position in each league, except in the outfield, where the top three defensive outfielders are selected regardless of position. Managers and coaches can only vote for players in their own league, and can't vote for their own players.
Hunter and Suzuki are two of a handful of incumbent winners who figure to have a shot at winning Gold Gloves for their defensive work in 2010.
A year ago, New York's Derek Jeter became the oldest shortstop honored since Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio, who was 36 when he was awarded the last of his nine Gold Gloves in 1970. Will Jeter hold off youngsters like Cliff Pennington of the A's and Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox?
In 2009, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, at 23 years old, became the youngest player in either league to win the award since then-Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur won a Gold Glove as a 23-year-old in '07.
Since its inception in 1957, four 20-year-old players have won the Gold Glove Award -- Chicago Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs (1962), Reds catcher Johnny Bench (1968), Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. (1990) and Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez (1992).
Here's a look at the favorites at each position, with the incumbent winners from 2009 listed first and the rest of the top candidates listed alphabetically. For those unfamiliar with sabermetrics, UZR stands for ultimate zone rating, which quantifies the number of runs a defender prevents or allows.
AL Gold Glove Award candidates
|*Mark Teixeira, NYY||3||121||4.0|
|Daric Barton, OAK||10||119||12.1|
|Lyle Overbay, TOR||6||139||0.1|
|*Orlando Hudson, MIN||8||72||9.8|
|Robinson Cano, NYY||3||107||-0.6|
|Mark Ellis, OAK||3||71||9.8|
|Sean Rodriguez, TB||6||52||3.5|
|*Evan Longoria, TB||14||40||11.1|
|Adrian Beltre, BOS||19||29||11.8|
|Kevin Kouzmanoff, OAK||12||26||16.1|
|Jose Lopez, SEA||18||26||8.1|
|*Derek Jeter, NYY||6||92||-4.7|
|J.J. Hardy, MIN||11||56||8.8|
|Cliff Pennington, OAK||25||93||9.9|
|Alexei Ramirez, CWS||20||101||10.8|
|*Joe Mauer, MIN||3||4||26.3%|
|A.J. Pierzynski, CWS||5||3||26.4%|
|Matt Wieters, BAL||5||2||35.8%|
|*Torii Hunter, LAA||3||4||-2.2|
|*Adam Jones, BAL||7||12||-5.0|
|*Ichiro Suzuki, SEA||4||7||15.6|
|Carl Crawford, TB||2||7||18.5|
|Brett Gardner, NYY||1||12||21.9|
|Austin Jackson, DET||6||9||5.4|
|*Mark Buehrle, CWS||0||46||4|
|Trevor Cahill, OAK||1||54||2|
|Ricky Romero, TOR||3||47||2|
|*-denotes last year's winner|
Mark Teixeira, Yankees: 3 errors, 121 DPs, 4.0 UZR; Daric Barton, A's: 10 errors, 119 DPs, 12.1 UZR; Lyle Overbay, Blue Jays: 6 errors, 139 DPs, 0.1 UZR.
Orlando Hudson, Twins: 8 errors, 72 DPs, 9.8 UZR; Robinson Cano, Yankees: 3 errors, 107 DPs, -0.6 UZR; Mark Ellis, A's: 3 errors; 71 DPs, 9.8 UZR; Sean Rodriguez, Rays: 6 errors, 52 DPs, 3.5 UZR.
Evan Longoria, Rays: 14 errors, 40 DPs, 11.1 UZR; Adrian Beltre, Red Sox: 19 errors, 29 DPs, 11.8 UZR; Kevin Kouzmanoff, A's: 12 errors, 26 DPs, 16.1 UZR; Jose Lopez, Mariners: 18 errors, 26 DPs, 8.1 UZR.
Derek Jeter, Yankees: 6 errors, 92 DPs, -4.7 UZR; J.J. Hardy, Twins: 11 errors, 56 DPs, 8.8 UZR; Cliff Pennington, A's: 25 errors, 93 DPs, 9.9 UZR; Alexi Ramirez, White Sox: 20 errors, 101 DPs, 10.8 UZR.
Joe Mauer, Twins: 3 errors, 4 PBs, 26.3-percent CS; A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox: 5 errors, 3 PBs, 26.4 CS; Matt Wieters, Orioles: 5 errors, 2 PBs, 35.8 CS.
Torii Hunter, Angels: 3 errors, 4 assists, -2.2 UZR; *Adam Jones, Orioles: 7 errors, 12 assists, -5.0 UZR; *Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: 4 errors, 7 assists, 15.6 UZR; Carl Crawford, Rays: 2 errors, 7 assists, 18.5 UZR; Brett Gardner, Yankees: 1 error, 12 assists, 21.9 UZR; Austin Jackson, Tigers: 6 errors, 9 assists, 5.4 UZR.
Mark Buehrle, White Sox: 0 errors, 46 assists, 4 DPs; Trevor Cahill, A's: 1 error, 54 assists, 2 DPs; Ricky Romero, Blue Jays: 3 errors, 47 assists, 2 DPs.
There's no shortage of big names to choose from this season, so who do you like? Better still, what's more important to you, the fewest errors and highest fielding percentage or UZR. Orlando Hudson won a Gold Glove in the National League a year ago. Will he win one in the AL this year? Will young players like Pennington and Brett Gardner win their first Gold Gloves or will they have to wait? You tell us.