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Defense rests: Votto, Phillips win Gold Gloves

Defense rests: Votto, Phillips win Gold Gloves

Defense rests: Votto, Phillips win Gold Gloves
CINCINNATI -- The right side of the Reds' infield received recognition on Tuesday for its solid year of defense.

Second baseman Brandon Phillips and first baseman Joey Votto both won National League Gold Gloves. The awards were announced by Rawlings, with the voting being done by the league's managers and coaches.

For Phillips, it's his third Gold Glove in the last four years, and second in a row. Votto is a first-time winner.

"It's a lot of hard work," Phillips said. "It never gets too old. It just lets me know that I'm doing my job and the coaches and managers respect my defense. It's an honor for them to vote for me. It shows me that hard work does pay off, and I'm going to continue to do what I do."

NL GOLD GLOVE WINNERS
The National League winners of the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, with the number of Gold Gloves each has won.
POS. PLAYER NO.
C Yadier Molina, Cardinals 4
1B Joey Votto, Reds 1
2B Brandon Phillips, Reds 3
3B Placido Polanco, Phillies 3
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies 2
LF Gerardo Parra, D-backs 1
CF Matt Kemp, Dodgers 2
RF Andre Ethier, Dodgers 1
P Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers 1

Votto, who was the 2010 NL Most Valuable Player, is the first Reds first baseman to win a Gold Glove, an award that's been given since 1957. While Votto has been a strong hitter since entering the big leagues in 2007 -- and one of the game's best hitters in recent seasons -- he was considered average to below average with a glove when he first came up.

The 28-year-old Votto has worked diligently to improve, and his efforts were rewarded.

"I'd like to thank the managers and coaches who selected me," Votto said in a statement. "It always means a tremendous amount to be selected by your superiors for any award, especially for one of this magnitude. I'd also like to thank the Reds' coaching staff for their help, with a special mention to bench coach Chris Speier."

Reds right fielder Jay Bruce was a nominee for a Gold Glove as well, but did not receive any hardware this time.

Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Phillips might have to clear more space in his trophy case. He had a .992 fielding percentage that ranked him fifth in the Majors among qualifying second basemen. He committed only six errors out of 721 total chances. According to Fangraphs.com, Phillips' ultimate zone rating (UZR) was the fourth-best in the Majors, at 11.4.

And what numbers couldn't underscore about Phillips' skills, the eye did the rest. He often made superlative plays that wowed crowds around the league.

"Defense wins games," Phillips said. "I just got out there and catch the ball the best that I know how and be the pitchers' best friend. When you're on defense, you're out there with the whole team and you're trying to get things done so you can win.

"I just like making plays. I've been blessed to have good hands and go out there and just catch the ball. The baseball field is my coliseum, and I am here to entertain my fans."

Votto, who ranked third in the NL with a .996 fielding percentage, committed six errors this season.

Now three members of the Reds infield have Gold Gloves. Third baseman Scott Rolen, who was injured much of this season, has won eight over his career.

"My infield teammates were an inspiration to me, and both Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen are two players I strive to emulate and keep up with defensively," Votto said. "This award, of all awards I've won in the past, has special meaning to me. When I first started playing professional baseball, I was without a position.

"For my first half-season in the Minor Leagues, I was essentially a professional DH. To have come this far through hard work, perseverance and the willingness to learn is something I will always be proud of. Defense is a part of the game that can always be improved upon, and to have come as far as I have, I am an example of that."

"I'm very happy for Joey," Phillips said. "It puts a smile on my face. That's one goal we really wanted for each other -- to go out there and try to win one together. It's nice."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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