Nationals' LaRoche wins first Gold Glove Award

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Brian McNally

Desmond lost to Rollins for NL shortstop honor

Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche earned the first Gold Glove Award of his career on Tuesday night.

LaRoche and shortstop Ian Desmond were the two Washington players named finalists as the best defensive player at their position in the National League. Desmond lost out to Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins. American League and National League managers and coaches voted on the players in their respective leagues, excluding those on their own team, and the results were announced on ESPN2.

LaRoche, 32, who missed most of 2011 after surgery to repair a tear in the labrum of his left shoulder, was credited upon his return for helping make his teammates better with his skills around the bag at first base. He successfully scooped 31 throws in the dirt to save his infielders from errors and made just seven errors in an NL-high 1,3231Ú3 innings. The other finalists at first base were Cincinnati's Joey Votto and Atlanta's Freddie Freeman.

It was not only the first Gold Glove for LaRoche, but he becomes just the third Washington D.C.-based player to win one. Ryan Zimmerman won a Gold Glove at third base in 2009 and Earl Battey was recognized at catcher in 1960 for the Senators.

Desmond appeared in 128 games at shortstop for Washington in what was his third year as the starter there. After making 34 errors in his first full season in 2010, Desmond cut those to 23 last season and made just 15 in 2012. That's in large part because he took the advice of his coaching staff and became a more conservative fielder. But his range remains excellent. According to the Revised Zone Rating stat used by the statistical website FanGraphs.com, no shortstop in the game converted a higher percentage of balls hit into his area into outs (.855).

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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