Kevin Kiermaier had been open about wanting to win a Gold Glove, the highest honor a Major League Baseball player can get for his defensive play. He had made his case with a season’s worth of highlight-reel plays in center field.
And on Tuesday night, the 25-year-old Bishop Luers graduate, was selected as a Gold Glove winner from the Tampa Bay Rays.
"This all just goes into the pride I take in my defense," Kiermaier said. "This sounds so cliché but everyone can come in and catch a fly ball. That’s not very difficult. But outfielders who go back and can take their eyes off the ball and still make the play, those are the guys who separate themselves from the others.
"That’s something I do a good job of, I believe."
Kiermaier became the fifth Tampa Bay player to win a Gold Glove, joining Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Carlos Peña and Jeremy Hellickson.
While it was obvious to the naked eye Kiermaier was excellent defensively, he had the statistics to back it. He had 42 defensive runs saved and led the league in the SABR defensive index.
"I have no idea how that stuff is calculated, but I know I was top of the leader board," he said.
"During the season, my teammates would mess around with me because they knew it too. I just try to make plays for my pitchers and my team and I know the numbers will take care of themselves at the end of the year."
Kiermaier is the seventh American League outfielder to win the award in his first full season, since the inception of the Gold Gloves in 1957, and is the first since Oakland’s Josh Reddick in 2012.
Kiermaier, a 31st-round pick, is the eighth player drafted in the 30th round or later to win a Gold Glove.
World Series MVP Salvador Perez and Kansas City Royals teammates Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar also won Gold Gloves in the American League.
Yoenis Cespedes won the AL prize in left field even though he was traded from Detroit to the New York Mets on July 31.
Perez was honored for the third consecutive season as the AL catcher, as was Hosmer at first base.
Escobar won for the first time at shortstop.
The other American League winners were second baseman Jose Altuve and pitcher Dallas Keuchel of Houston, Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado and Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun.
In the National League, catcher Yadier Molina and right fielder Jason Heyward won from St. Louis. Arizona also had two winners with first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and center fielder A.J. Pollock.
Other NL winners were Miami second baseman Dee Gordon, San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford, Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado, Pittsburgh left fielder Starling Marte and Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke.