If 2009 was Placido Polanco's last in a Detroit Tigers uniform, he leaves with his head held high and his fielding glove golden.
Polanco was awarded the American League's Gold Glove at second base today, the second time he's won the honor in the last three seasons. He committed only two errors this season, the second-lowest total of his career. (In 2007, he had no errors.)
Polanco also turned a career-high 112 double-plays (finishing behind only the Blue Jays' Aaron Hill - who turned 129 - among second basemen). And he finished with the highest UZR rating at his position.
In addition, Polanco is the third infielder in Tigers history to win multiple Gold Gloves, joining Alan Trammell (who won four) and Lou Whitaker (three) in that exclusive club.
Catcher Gerald Laird, third baseman Brandon Inge, and outfielder Curtis Granderson were thought to also have chances to win a Gold Glove, but apparently didn't get enough votes among major league managers and coaches. The Twins' Joe Mauer was the winner at catcher, the Rays' Evan Longoria at third base, and though Gold Gloves aren't given to individual outfield positions, centerfielders Torii Hunter (Angels) and Adam Jones (Orioles) were each awarded.
Did those Tigers get snubbed? Well, Laird threw out 42% of opposing basestealers this season. (Mauer, by comparison, threw out 26%.) Inge, however, was fourth in UZR among third baseman. (Longoria was first.) Granderson was better in UZR than Hunter or Jones, but far behind the Mariners' Franklin Gutierrez. (Gutierrez didn't get a Gold Glove either, so take that for what it's worth.)
Whether or not Polanco returns to Detroit in 2010 is still to be determined, but if Scott Sizemore ends up taking over at second base, he'll have an enormous glove to fill. How long into next season will it be before it's mentioned that the Tigers are suffering a defensive downgrade at that position? (Hopefully, it's not after Sizemore boots a ball for an error.)