It was a year to remember for Tampa Bay Rays outfielder, Kevin Kiermaier, in 2015. He not only won the Rawlings Gold Glove last year but he went on to also win the Platinum Glove in the American League as well. In 2016, he hopes to repeat as Rawlings has named him a finalist for the second year in a row.
Kiermaier joins Red Sox Jackie Bradley Jr and Blue Jays Kevin Pillar on the finalist ballot for center field in the AL.
His chances of winning this year may be a bit tougher than in 2015. Despite not missing a beat in the field, Kiermaier played in just 105 games in ’16 (down from 151 in ’15) as he battled injury. Bradley Jr (156) and Kevin Pillar (146) both contributed on a near nightly basis for their teams who both went to the post-season. His “Defensive Runs Saved” took a significant hit, down from 42 when he won last year which was far and away better than the field to a still impressive 25 (second in AL behind Mookie Betts) in 2016. Bradley Jr (11) is a ways behind but Pillar (21) is right behind him this year.
Few dared run on Kiermaier as he put up seven assists from center field, second behind Bradley Jr’s 13 rockets, while Pillar pulls up the rear with six to his name in 2016.
Kiermaier’s bat began to finally heat up in the second half of the season this year and he made a very comfortable home hitting second behind Logan Forsythe. If he manages to win a second Gold Glove, becoming only the second Ray in team history to do so (Longoria), could he also be staring a significant pay raise and maybe even a nice extension in the face, as well? He’s coming due for arbitration and it would absolutely behoove the Rays to try and lock up their prized defender for years to come to solidify an outfield of at least he and right fielder, Steven Souza Jr.
It will make for a very interesting off-season, once again, for your Tampa Bay Rays, for sure.
The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards will be officially announced on ESPN, Tuesday November 8 at 8:00 PM EST.