By Rob Rains
The color of choice for the Cardinals in 2021 was Gold.
The team had a finalist at six of the nine positions for the Rawlings Gold Glove awards, and when the winners were announced on Sunday night, the team went an almost perfect 5-of-6.
Two players won the first Gold Glove of their careers, Harrison Bader in center field and Tommy Edman at second base, while the other awards went to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, third baseman Nolan Arenado and left-fielder Tyler O’Neill.
The Cardinals became the first team in major-league history to win five Gold Gloves in the same season.
The only Cardinal who was a finalist but did not win was catcher Yadier Molina, a nine-time winner in his career, who lost out to Jacob Stallings of the Pirates. Molina’s last win came in 2018.
The biggest surprise winner might have been Edman, a finalist for the first time in his first season as the Cardinals’ starting second baseman. Among the players he beat out was former Cardinal Kolten Wong, who had won the award the last two years when he was in St. Louis.
The five Gold Gloves came in a season when the Cardinals easily ranked as the best defensive team in the National League. According to the defensive runs saved statistic compiled by the Fielding Bible, the Cardinals defense saved 81 runs in 2021, 20 more than the next best teams in the NL, the Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies, who each saved 61 runs.
The Gold Glove was the fourth of his career for Goldschmidt, but his first with the Cardinals. His three previous awards, the most recent in 2017, came when he was with the Diamondbacks. He is the first Cardinal first baseman to win the award since Albert Pujols in 2010.
Arenado won for the ninth consecutive year, every year he has played in the majors, the first eight coming as a member of the Rockies. The last Cardinal third baseman to win a Gold Glove was Scott Rolen in 2006.
O’Neill won for the second consecutive year; he and Wong were the only Cardinals to win the award in 2020.
The Cardinal had won four Gold Gloves three times in their history, most recently in 2003 when Mike Matheny, Edgar Renteria, Rolen and Jim Edmonds were the winners. They also won four Gold Gloves in 2002 and in 1963.
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Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports