Reds infield could have golden opportunity

Reds infield could have golden opportunity

DENVER -- It could be a stretch, but not a very long one. As managers and coaches around baseball soon get their ballots, the Reds could have an entire infield of National League Gold Glove Award winners after the season.

Defense has been huge reason the Reds are in first place this season. Their overall .989 team fielding percentage leads the National League, and they've committed 58 errors -- fewest in the league.

"I do believe, arguably, we have the best infield in the league," shortstop Orlando Cabrera said. "You can see it with the numbers, our games, the record. I think we really have improved along with the season."

The two best chances for NL Gold Gloves are second baseman Brandon Phillips and third baseman Scott Rolen. Phillips, a 2008 Gold Glover, leads all NL players at his position with a .995 fielding percentage, and he's made just three errors.

Rolen, a seven-time Gold Glove winner, ranks second in the NL in fielding percentage (.980) and fewest errors (six). His zone rating, which is the percentage of balls fielded by a player in his typical defensive zone, is ranked only ninth, however.

"Honestly, out of the group of four of us, I would be surprised if Scott Rolen didn't win a Gold Glove," first baseman Joey Votto said.

Votto wouldn't handicap his own chances, not surprisingly, but he also has a very good case. He's fourth in fielding percentage (.996), errors (four) and zone rating. He's made tremendous improvement with his glove in general and has made some stellar plays.

"It's all possible because of Joey. He's done an unbelievable job at first base," Cabrera said. "He's picked up almost, it seems, everything."

Votto's defense doesn't have the reputation of others like the Padres' Adrian Gonzalez, who has won the Gold Glove Award at first the last two years.

"I truly feel like I've improved this year and played at a high level defensively," Votto said. "Whether or not it results in a Gold Glove, I don't know. It'd be cool to win one, though. I was a very below average to mediocre fielder in the Minor Leagues. I worked my way up to being an average defender late in the Minor Leagues. To have made as much progress as I have defensively, I'm very proud of myself."

Cabrera won Gold Gloves in 2001 and '07 and wouldn't mind adding one more. Quietly this season, he's built an interesting case, as he ranks fourth in errors (10) and fielding percentage (.977) and sixth in zone rating. The only shortstop from a contending team ranked ahead of him is Troy Tulowitzki of Colorado, who leads in fielding percentage and fewest errors and is likely the favorite -- especially after making several nice plays in this series.

While managers and coaches might go off numbers, many use their own eyes and -- for better or worse -- go by reputation. And Cabrera has that.

"I always take a lot of pride in my defense," said Cabrera, 35. "Winning the Gold Glove at this age would mean everything to me, personally."