Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche won the Gold Glove Award for National League first basemen on Tuesday, Oct. 30. It was the first time in LaRoche's career that he has won a Gold Glove.
LaRoche along with teammate Ian Desmond were the two Nationals players who made the final round as the best defensive player at their position in the National League. Desmond had an outstanding defensive year at shortstop, but he finished second to the Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins. Managers and coaches from both the National League and the American League voted on players in their respective leagues, with the exception of those players on their own team, and ESPN2 announced the results on the air.
The 32-year-old LaRoche missed most of the 2011 season following surgery to repair a tear in the labrum of his throwing shoulder. When he returned, the southpaw was credited with helping to make his teammates better through his extraordinary skills around first base.
In the 2012 season, he made only seven errors in a National League high 1,323 innings, and successfully dug 31 throws out of the dirt to prevent his infielders from committing errors. The other award finalists at the first base position were the Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman and the Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto.
Not only was it the first Gold Glove for Laroche, but he became only the third Washington, D.C.-based player to ever win one. Ryan Zimmerman won a Gold Glove for his sensational defense at third base in 2009 and Earl Battey won the award at the catcher position in 1960 for the Senators.
Desmond played in 128 contests at the shortstop position for the Nats in what was his third season as the starter there. He has consistently improved over the past three seasons. In 2010, his first full season, he committed 34 errors. Last season, he reduced that number to 23 and in the 2012 season, he was responsible for only 15. His defense improved in large measure because he heeded the recommendation of his coaches and approached his position more conservatively. He still has excellent range.
According to the Revised Zone Rating statistic used by the statistical website FanGraphs.com, Desmond led all shortstops in converting balls hit into his area into outs. He posted a percentage of .855. As we approach the 2013 season, there is no doubt that Desmond is regarded as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game.