First baseman James Loney, second baseman Ben Zobrist, shortstop Yunel Escobar and third baseman Evan Longoria were among the three American League finalists at their respective positions. They received plenty of praise throughout the season from Rays manager Joe Maddon, who insisted his infielders were all Gold Glove-caliber defenders. But in the end, Tampa Bay was shut out in the Rawlings Gold Glove Award voting.
Kansas City's Eric Hosmer won his first Gold Glove Award at first base over Loney. Boston's Dustin Pedroia took home the second-base honor, the third of his career. Baltimore swept the left side of the infield, with J.J. Hardy winning at shortstop for the second year in a row and third baseman Manny Machado grabbing his first Gold Glove.
In the past, the awards had been voted on only by managers and coaches, but this year, Rawlings collaborated with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) to incorporate a sabermetric component into the Gold Glove voting. Experts created the SABR Defensive Index (SDI), an aggregate of several statistical metrics that accounted for 30 total votes, or approximately 25 percent of the Gold Glove Award selection process.
The Rays acquitted themselves well statistically through both the advanced metrics and the more traditional numbers. Loney led the first-base finalists in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), while Escobar sported a higher fielding percentage (.989) than either Hardy or Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar.
Longoria put up some impressive numbers in his bid for a third Gold Glove Award, including a 14.6 UZR, 12 DRS and a .972 fielding percentage. But Machado led all AL third basemen in fielding percentage, assists, double plays turned and range factor per game. Machado's 32 Total Zone Runs gave him the highest total for any defender in 2013, and the 12th-highest total of all-time.
Zobrist, meanwhile, came up short against Pedroia despite having an excellent season at second base. Zobrist finished points ahead of Pedroia in terms of fielding percentage (.9928 to .9927), but Pedroia led all Major League second basemen with 15 DRS and led the AL with an .836 zone rating.
The Orioles and Royals led the Majors with three winners each.
The Rays' last Gold Glove Award came in 2012, when right-hander Jeremy Hellickson split the AL pitcher's award. Before that, the Rays had at least one winner each year from 2008-10: first baseman Carlos Pena in '08, Longoria in '09 and left fielder Carl Crawford and Longoria in 2010.