When Mark Buehrle won his first Gold Glove in 2009, he was well aware that the recipients tend to benefit from the power of inertia:
"Hopefully, I earned it and it wasn't about, 'They retired, so let's give it to him,'" Buehrle said. "I don't like that. I don't want to win it this year, and then they just hand it to me because I won it for the first time. You should earn it every year."
Well, Buehrle still hasn't lost it since he won it. Tonight, he took home a Gold Glove for the third straight year, and it's the third straight year he deserved it.
Unlike last year, Buehrle didn't have that one signature play that locked up the award. This time, it was his entire season's body of work -- starring his ability to control the running game, reaction time and range off the mound -- that kept the hardware coming.
It’s a third consecutive Fielding Bible Award for Mark Buehrle. It is remarkable how Buehrle puts up excellent Defensive Runs Saved numbers year after year. He saved an estimated nine runs defensively for the White Sox in 2011, tops among all pitchers in baseball. He had eight saved runs in 2010, 11 in 2009, and has averaged about eight per year going back to 2004. His control of the running game is uncanny. Only three baserunners were successful stealing bases in 2011 with Buehrle on the mound, while nine of them were caught stealing or picked off by Buehrle. He covers his position as well, with 15 of his Runs Saved guarding the territory around the mound over the last three years.
Buehrle finished the year with the lowest stolen-base success rate allowed by any American League starter (30 percent, or 3-for-10) -- and A.J. Pierzynski caught most of his starts. He can credit his great move to first, as he finished with six pickoffs in 2011...
...and zero balks. In fact, he managed to avoid Joe West's crew all season.
Buehrle's top play of the season doesn't involve tumbling, but it's still hard for any current pitcher to match: