Young states position with Gold Glove

Young snares first Gold Glove

ARLINGTON -- Rangers shortstop Michael Young made the routine play and turned the double play better than anybody at his position in the American League this year.

His reward was the first Gold Glove of his career.

"From an individual award standpoint, this is as good as it gets," Young said Thursday after the announcement came that he is the shortstop on the 2008 American League Rawlings Gold Glove team. "Defense is something I've worked hard at, especially since switching positions. I've put a lot of hard work in it, and for the managers and coaches to recognize me for that means a lot."

The award is voted on by AL managers and coaches and is further indication of the immense respect Young carries in the game. In the past six months, his fellow players have voted him onto the All-Star team for the fifth straight year and named him the 2008 winner of the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award.

"That respect is something you have to earn, not only by the way you play the game but by the way you conduct yourself," Young said. "That's something I take pride in more than numbers. Stats don't lie, but they don't tell the whole story. I care about the way I prepare myself and by playing to win. That's what I care about, not the numbers."

His defensive numbers were still pretty good this year, even though he played with two small fractures in fingers on both his left and right hands for much of the season. He had the highest fielding percentage among AL shortstops and also led the league in double plays and assists per game.

"If he gets to it and gets his glove on it, it's an out," manager Ron Washington said. "That's all I want from my infielders, and he does it as well as anybody in the game." The Rangers set a club record for double plays turned with 191.

RANGERS FOR THE DEFENSE
Texas Gold Glove winners 1972-2008
Player
Position
Number
Ivan Rodriguez
catcher
10
Jim Sundberg
catcher
6
Buddy Bell
third base
6
Kenny Rogers
pitcher
4
Mark Teixeira
first base
2
Alex Rodriguez
shortstop
2
Michael Young
shortstop
1
Juan Beniquez
outfielder
1
Gary Pettis
outfielder
1
Rafael Palmeiro
first base
1

"Making the routine play is huge," Young said. "I think my two biggest assets are my hands and my arm strength, and those are the two things you have to make the routine play and the double play.

"At the same time I was able to work with a great double-play partner in Ian Kinsler. He really pushes me and it's great to have somebody who holds up his end. He'll win a Gold Glove some day. He's just hitting the tip of the iceberg with his ability."

One criticism of the Gold Glove is it's often based on reputation. But Young beat out three shortstops who have won multiple Gold Gloves: Derek Jeter of the Yankees with three and Orlando Cabrera of the White Sox and Edgar Renteria of the Tigers with two apiece.

The award comes at a time when there has been some debate about how long Young will remain at shortstop. He moved over from second base in 2004 after the Rangers traded Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees and there has been some internal discussions about moving him to third base to make room for top prospect Elvis Andrus.

THE TOP STOPS
The eight AL shortstops who played enough to qualify to be among the fielding leaders, ranked by fielding percentage.
Player
Team
Pct.
Errors
DP
Ast/G
Michael Young
TEX
.984
11
113
3.25
Derek Jeter
NYY
.979
12
69
2.48
Jhonny Peralta
CLE
.979
14
104
3.02
Orlando Cabrera
CWS
.978
16
101
3.06
Edgar Renteria
DET
.972
16
91
2.80
Bobby Crosby
OAK
.972
17
99
2.73
Jason Bartlett
TB
.970
16
69
2.54
Y. Betancourt
SEA
.968
21
98
2.72

Young is adamantly opposed to switching positions and a Gold Glove reinforces his stance.

"I don't look at this as validation," Young said. "I try to stay in the middle. I don't get too excited when somebody pats me on the back and I don't care if somebody criticizes me or says I can't do something. I almost prefer it when somebody says I can't do something. That makes me try harder. Those guys are my best friends in the league."

Despite Young's play at shortstop, the Rangers finished with the worst fielding percentage in the Major Leagues. He is the first infielder to win a Gold Glove on a team with the lowest fielding percentage. Three pitchers, three outfielders and one catcher also accomplished that feat.

He is the second Rangers middle infielder to win a Gold Glove. Rodriguez won it at shortstop in 2002-03. No Rangers second baseman has ever won a Gold Glove, although Young finished second behind Bret Boone in 2003.

Young also restores the Rangers to the Gold Glove team after they were shut out in 2007 for the first time since 1991.

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