Former Cleveland Indians SS Omar Vizquel selected to 60th Anniversary Gold Glove Award Team
CLEVELAND -- Former Cleveland Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel was selected to the 60th Anniversary American League Gold Glove Team.
Vizquel was named to the American League team during the announcement of the 2017 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards on ESPN Tuesday night.
The Indians acquired Vizquel in a trade with the Seattle Mariners after the 1993 season in exchange for first baseman Reggie Jefferson, shortstop Felix Fermin and cash, and the Venezuela native went on to spend the next 11 years making breathtaking barehanded plays in the middle of the infield.
Vizquel won the AL Gold Glove Award eight straight times (1994-2001) and was a three-time All-Star selection (1998-1999, 2002) during his time with the Indians.
Despite having 11,961 defensive chances, the soft-handed shortstop carried a .985 fielding percentage. He combined with several second basemen, most notably fellow Indians Hall of Famer Carlos Baerga and National Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, to convert 944 double plays over 11 seasons, an average 85.8 per season.
Combined with Alomar, Vizquel helped turn 275 double plays for the Indians from 1999-2001, and his 1,734 career double plays turned rank first all-time. They are 144 more than Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, who is second all-time for double plays turned by a shortstop (1,590).
“I stayed in the big leagues because of my defense, no doubt about it,” Vizquel told the media when he was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame during the 2014 season. “When I came up, I was 21 years old, just learning to switch hit, and the process was complicated for me. My defense is what brought me to the big leagues and kept me in this game for a long time. I take pride in it every day and every Gold Glove that I got. I think it’s something that I always carried with me.
“The one guy I have to mention is my dad because he was always the one hitting me ground balls, telling me what to do when I make errors or how to make the play the right way. He played ball a little bit, and he knew about the game. When I was 17 or 18 years old and I signed, he was always watching me to see what I was doing and what I could improve.”
After his time with the Indians, Vizquel went on to play four seasons with the San Francisco Giants (2005-2008), one with the Texas Rangers (2009), two with the Chicago White Sox (2010-2011) and his last, in 2012, with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Obviously, a guy that has a strong arm at shortstop is going to make the play differently than a guy that has an average arm like myself,” Vizquel said. “You needed to do something different to get to the ball and get in a position to throw the ball to first base. All the little things, I tried to apply on the field when I was practicing, and if it didn’t work for me, I’d just leave it to the side and work at it.”