CLEVELAND -- Just call him Gold Glove Grady. For the second straight year, Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore is being recognized for his all-out hustle and willingness to sacrifice his body to make the stellar defensive play. Because, for the second straight year, Sizemore has been named the winner of a Rawlings American League Gold Glove Award.
Managers and coaches from each Major League club vote for the best defensive players in their respective leagues. They are excluded from voting for players on their own team."It's a great feeling," Sizemore said of the honor. "You never really go into the year expecting something like this. Any time you get recognized or voted on or win something like this, whether it's coaches, players or the media who decides it, it's a great feeling." Joining Sizemore in the AL outfield on the Gold Glove platform Thursday were the Angels' Torii Hunter and the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki. That's the same outfield trio as a year ago. It was a former Mariners outfielder, Ken Griffey Jr., whose name was synonymous with the Gold Glove when Sizemore was growing up in Seattle. Junior won the award in each of his last 10 seasons with Seattle. So, when Sizemore thinks about the Gold Glove, he thinks of Griffey. "It was always exciting to watch him play," Sizemore said. "I don't consider myself that type of player, but to watch him win it and to play that position now and get to watch him the last few years is pretty nice. I try not to focus on personal stats, but winning a defensive award is one of the greater accomplishments I've been a part of." The rest of the AL winners this year were Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina, Twins catcher Joe Mauer, Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, Mariners third baseman Adrian Beltre and Rangers shortstop Michael Young. The 2008 season marked the 52nd year of the Gold Glove award. They first were awarded in 1957 to one player at each position from both leagues, then expanded the next year to include one player at each position from each league. Sizemore has established a Gold Glove reputation that is hard to shake, as this second straight trophy proves. Now he just has to find a place for it. "I'll have to start making some room," he said. "Right now, [the first trophy] is at my folks' house. I don't have a good display case." The last Indians player to win consecutive Gold Gloves was shortstop Omar Vizquel in 2000-01. The last outfielder to do it was Kenny Lofton in 1995-96. When he wasn't busy becoming the first Indians player to notch 30 homers, 30 doubles and 30 stolen bases in a single season, the 26-year-old Sizemore was compiling a .995 fielding percentage that ranked eighth among AL outfielders and second among AL center fielders. He had two errors in 386 total chances over 151 starts in center field. In five seasons with the Tribe, Sizemore has compiled a career fielding percentage of .994. Attempts have been made to find other ways to use numbers to display defensive prowess. STATS LLC. came up with a formula to determine the percentage of times a player accurately fields a ball hit into his typical defensive zone. In '08, Sizemore (.909) was just one of four qualifying AL center fielders to have a zone rating higher than .900, according to STATS. Last week, another Indians outfielder, Franklin Gutierrez, received a noteworthy defensive honor when he was named one of nine winners of a 2008 Fielding Bible Award for his work in right field. The award, handed out in the Bill James Handbook by the statistician James and author James Dewan, was given to Gutierrez because Dewan calculated that Gutierrez made 29 above-average plays in 97 games in right field last season -- the most of any right fielder in baseball. The difficulty with defense is that numbers can't always tell the whole story. Indeed, Sizemore's play is best appreciated in person or, failing that, on videotape. Take, for example, the dazzling defensive gem he turned in on the season's final day in Chicago. The Indians were trailing, 3-1, in the seventh inning when White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski hit a high fly ball to right center. Just when it seemed the ball would clear the wall, Sizemore stormed to the wall, went airborne and caught the ball in front of the outstretched arm of a Sox fan, thwarting the would-be homer before tumbling to the ground. "I can't believe he caught that ball," manager Eric Wedge said of that catch. "And that was on a dead run, too. I didn't even know he had it until he showed it to everybody." To still be impressing Wedge at this stage speaks to Sizemore's flair for the dramatic. And as the award voting proves, plenty of others around the league have taken notice of Gold Glove Grady.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.