Oakland A’s right fielder Josh Reddick won a 2012 AL Gold Glove last night for his defense in right field. To those who watched Reddick play all season, this comes as little surprise.
There was of course his amazing catch against the Toronto Blue Jays, when he climbed the chain link fence on the outfield wall and clung to the top of it until the ball reached him and he made the catch. However, there were a lot of other day-to-day plays that Reddick made, particularly with his arm, that were nearly as impressive, if not so spectacular.
The first sign that Reddick might be a special fielder came on April 9 in a game against the Kansas City Royals. On a routine fly ball hit fairly deep to right field, Royals center fielder Jason Bourgeois tagged up from second and sprinted for third. Whatever qualities are lacking from Bourgeois’ game, speed is not one of them. Most right fielders would have let him go, throwing the ball to a cutoff man.
Not Reddick. He fired the ball to third as hard as he could, and with a little help from Josh Donaldson, the speedy Bourgeois was out.
He once threw out Alberto Callaspo at second on a play that should have been a stand up double. If you don’t find that impressive, consider that Reddick also gunned down baseball’s golden boy Mike Trout at second base, when the rookie hit a ball to the gap in right-center that nearly reached the wall and usually would have been a fairly easy double.
Most outfielders would not even attempt the throws Reddick tried and often pulled off. And yet after each one he returned to his spot in right field calmly chewing on his bright yellow mouth guard as if he had no idea that he just made a highlight reel throw.
His play embodied that of the A’s all year, a group of young guys doing what everybody said they could not, and taking it all in stride. If Coco Crisp was the A’s head and Jonny Gomes their heart, Reddick was Oakland’s soul.
And perhaps that is what makes this Gold Glove a little more special for the A’s. Nobody saw Reddick’s performance in the field or at the plate coming in 2012. Nobody saw the entire team winning 94 games.
As if that were not enough, Reddick instilled a fun flair in his team, both with his glove and his antics after big wins, that endeared him and the rest of the A’s to fans.
Maybe this seems like making too much out of Reddick’s Gold Glove. There is probably no more disputed or oft ridiculed award in baseball, given that hitting and market size often trump actual fielding. But ultimately, Reddick’s award offers Oakland and its fans one final chance to reflect on the amazing season that happened in 2012.