LaRoche wins first Gold Glove

LaRoche wins first Gold Glove
October 30, 2012, 9:15 pm
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The best offensive season of Adam LaRoche's career may actually have helped the Nationals first baseman be recognized at long last for his fielding prowess.

LaRoche won his first-ever Rawlings Gold Glove award tonight, selected as the best defensive first baseman in the National League in voting among managers and coaches.

LaRoche has long been considered stellar in the field, but the 32-year-old had never been recognized for it, losing out in previous Gold Glove selections to the likes of Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez and Derrek Lee.

The NL's managers and coaches finally gave LaRoche his due this year, citing his .995 fielding percentage and ability to snatch up<!-- more --> errant throws that saved his infield mates from being charged with errors.

It probably didn't hurt that LaRoche enjoyed the best offensive season of his career -- he clubbed 33 homers with 100 RBI and a .271 batting average -- while playing for a first-place team, raising his profile among the rest of the league.

LaRoche was selected over two other finalists at first base: the Reds' Joey Votto (last year's winner) and the Braves' Freddie Freeman.

Now a free agent, LaRoche hopes to sign a long-term deal to stay with the Nationals. The two sides hold an exclusive negotiating window until Saturday, at which point LaRoche is free to talk to other clubs. He's believed to be seeking a three-year contract worth somewhere in the range of $33 million to $36 million.

Though teammate Ian Desmond also was a finalist to win his first Gold Glove award, the Nationals shortstop lost out to the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins (who won for the fourth time in six years).

Desmond, 27, enjoyed a breakthrough season at the plate and in the field, earning his first All-Star selection in the process. After committing a MLB-high 34 errors in 2010, he cleaned up his defensive game and brought that number down to 23 in 2011 and 15 this season.

Rollins committed the fewest errors (13) and had the best fielding percentage (.978) among qualifying NL shortstops.

LaRoche joins Ryan Zimmerman (2009) as the only Gold Glove award winners in Nationals history.