Aybar takes home first Gold Glove Award

Aybar takes home first Gold Glove Award

As the 2011 season was winding down in unsatisfying fashion for his Angels, shortstop Erick Aybar admitted that he had one goal in mind for the offseason as he cleared out his locker at Angel Stadium.

"I'd love to win a Gold Glove," Aybar said. "It's been a big goal of mine since I came to the big leagues. I think I focused and had a good year, and I hope I have a chance for it. I saw Orlando [Cabrera] win his [in 2007], and when I took his place that was something I really wanted."

Consider it done.

Aybar, who is in Taiwan playing for a touring Major League team against Chinese Taipei, learned on Tuesday night that he'd won his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award. Managers and coaches in the American League rewarded Aybar for his range, his powerful and accurate arm, and his dexterity on the pivot. Baltimore's J.J. Hardy and Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera were the other finalists at the position.

Aybar succeeds the Yankees' Derek Jeter, who had won the award in five of the previous seven seasons.

The Angels had three other finalists for Gold Gloves: pitcher Dan Haren, center fielder Peter Bourjos and right fielder Torii Hunter. They were edged out in the voting by Chicago's Mark Buehrle, Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and Baltimore's Nick Markakis, respectively.

Hunter is a nine-time Gold Glove winner, all as a center fielder. Haren and Bourjos were bidding for their first Gold Gloves.

"I really like the way Markakis plays," Hunter said. "He's really good, and he deserves it. I gave it my best shot, and so did Pete. We had a great outfield this year with Pete, Vernon [Wells] and myself. And we'll be better next year."

Aybar is the third shortstop in franchise history to win a Gold Glove. Jim Fregosi claimed his in 1967 and Cabrera was the choice in '07. Aybar succeeded him at the position a year later after Cabrera was traded to the White Sox for Jon Garland.

AL GOLD GLOVE WINNERS
The American League winners of the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, with the number of Gold Gloves each has won.
POS. PLAYER NO.
C Matt Wieters, Orioles 1
1B Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox 3
2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox 2
3B Adrian Beltre, Rangers 3
SS Erick Aybar, Angels 1
LF Alex Gordon, Royals 1
CF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox 1
RF Nick Markakis, Orioles 1
P Mark Buehrle, White Sox 3
Hampered by injuries in his first season as a regular, Aybar has been a spectacular presence since replacing Cabrera. The one knock on Aybar was that he would occasionally have mental lapses and mishandle the routine play. But he was rock-solid throughout 2011.

The Dominican Republic native fashioned a .980 fielding percentage, tied for third among AL shortstops, by committing just 13 errors in 659 total chances. He tied for the AL lead by being involved in 102 double plays, and he made 142 starts, spanning 1,262 innings.

Haren did not commit an error in 238 1/3 innings pitched, handling 48 chances.

Bourjos, taking advantage of his blinding speed and sure hands, committed four errors while making 350 putouts and racking up seven assists. He had a .989 fielding percentage.

Hunter made three errors while handling 260 outs, matching Bourjos' .989 percentage in his first full season in right. Hunter's 15 assists were second among all right fielders in the Major Leagues behind Kansas City's Jeff Francoeur, who had 16.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.