Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche today was named the recipient of the 2012 National League Rawlings Gold Glove for first basemen. The defensive citation is the first of LaRoche’s career.
LaRoche, who could be a free agent by week’s end, posted career high offensive numbers which could have garnered him more attention overall, allowing his defensive prowess to shine for the voters — N.L. managers and coaches. It also helps that stalwarts such as Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez now ply their trade in the other league.
LaRoche beat out last year’s winner, Joey Votto of the Reds, and Freddie Freeman of the Braves to earn his first career Gold Glove.
The hardware should be especially rewarding to LaRoche, who came back from shoulder surgery to post his finest offensive season to go along with his normally stellar defense as the 33-year old looks to sign a long-term contract. He’s sure to waive his option and test the free agent waters should he and the team fail to work out a long-term deal before he can file for free agency at the end of the week.
From the press release:
LaRoche led all National League first baggers this season in fielding percentage (.995), games started (149) and innings (1323.1). At 6.1, LaRoche also paced NL first basemen (min. 1000 innings) in Ultimate Zone Rating, a figure that blends the number of runs above or below average a fielder is in three categories: range runs, double play runs, and error runs combined. He also led the NL with 159 plays made and 38 plays made out of zone (OOZ).
LaRoche is the third Washington-based big leaguer to earn a Rawlings Gold Glove. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman earned the Nationals first Gold Glove in 2009, while Senators catcher Earl Battey earned the first of his three career Gold Gloves in 1960, his lone season in Washington. Rawlings established the Gold Glove in 1957 to reward defensive excellence.
Beyond his Gold Glove season in the field, LaRoche enjoyed a breakout season at the plate in 2012, hitting .271 with 35 doubles, a career-high 33 home runs, 100 RBI (tied career high) and a career-best 76 runs scored in 154 games. Louisville Slugger will announce their 2012 Silver Slugger recipients Thursday at 6 p.m. (ET) on MLB Network.