Let the postseason award season begin

The American League Gold Glove Award winners will be announced tomorrow and the Mariners are expected to have a least one player selected — right fielder Ichiro Suzuki.

It would be Ichiro’s ninth consecutive selection, moving him within one of the franchise record held by Ken Griffey Jr. — 1990-99.

If I had a vote —  the managers and coaches are the voters– center fielder Franklin Gutierrez would get a Gold Glove, even at the expense of Ichiro. Gutierrez was, day-in and day-out, the best center fielder not named Torii Hunter in the AL this past season.

But only three outfielders are selected and having two players from the same team is rare. The last time it happened in the AL was in 2001 when Ichiro and Mike Cameron were selected. 

The Mariners also had two outfield Gold Glove winners in 1996, when Junior nabbed his fourth straight and Jay Buhner got his first (and only) Gold Glove. It was the first time teammates struck gold in the same year since 1981, when Dwayne Murphy and Rickey Henderson of the Athletics were awarded Gold Gloves for the defensive excellence.

I believe third baseman Adrian Beltre’s run of Gold Gloves will end at two straight seasons, although in my book he still ranks near the top among hot-corner defenders. The Rays’ Evan Longoria could get the nod, however. It probably didn’t help that Beltre, who did not wear a protective cup until it was too late, went on the disabled list after suffering a severely contused right testicle when hit by a bad-hop grounder.

Moving right along, ace right-hander Felix Hernandez figures to finish  behind Royals right-hander Zack Greinke in the AL Cy Young Award race — primarily because Greinke was good from Opening Day through the entire season, while Felix faltered coming out of the blocks. He was just 4-3 with a 4.13 ERA in mid-May.

My guess for AL manager of the year is Angels skipper Mike Scioscia, with Don Wakamatsu running a close second. Granted, the Angels had a better team on paper than the Mariners, but the horrible loss of pitcher Nick Adenhart, who was killed in a traffic accident several hours after pitching six shutout innings against the Athletics in Anaheim, gave Scioscia a challenge that (thankfully) no other skipper had to face.

Wak deserves kudos for taking a team that lost 101 games in ’08 to an 85-win team in ’09.

— Jim Street



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