National League Gold Glove winners include three Dodgers

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We already went over the American League Gold Glove winners, so now it’s the National League’s turn.

Again, things were a little different this year. In addition to three finalists at each defensive position, we also had one winner from each outfield position for the first time.

Courtesy of the Associated Press, here are your 2011 NL Gold Glove winners:

C – Yadier Molina, Cardinals (fourth Gold Glove)
1B – Joey Votto, Reds (first Gold Glove)
2B – Brandon Phillips, Reds (third Gold Glove)
SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (second Gold Glove)
3B – Placido Polanco, Phillies (third Gold Glove)
LF – Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks (first Gold Glove)
CF – Matt Kemp, Dodgers (second Gold Glove)
RF – Andre Ethier, Dodgers (first Gold Glove)
P – Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (first Gold Glove)

Kemp, Ethier and Kershaw are the first trio of Dodgers to win the award in the same season. Kemp previously won the Gold Glove in 2009 while Ethier and Kershaw are both first-time winners. Again, I’m not going to waste too much time railing against the voting process, but Ethier sticks out like a sore thumb on this list. Justin Upton, who was announced as a Fielding Bible award winner on Monday, wasn’t even one of the finalists for right field. Oh well.

On the bright side, there aren’t too many other complaints here. Yadier Molina was a no-brainer behind the plate, becoming the first NL catcher to win the Gold Glove in four consecutive seasons since Charles Johnson from 1995-1998. While not a household name, Arizona’s Gerardo Parra was a tremendous pick for left field. Kudos for getting that one right. Polanco was pretty much a lock to win at a watered-down third base position, despite appearing in just 122 games this season. He joins Darin Erstad as the only players to win Gold Gloves at two positions.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.