ST. LOUIS -- It's becoming tradition. Yadier Molina won his fourth Rawlings Gold Glove Award, and fourth straight, on Tuesday night.
Molina, who has been recognized as the National League's best defensive catcher in many circles for even longer than he's been winning Gold Gloves, joins an elite club in picking up the hardware for the fourth time. He's the 10th player in the history of the award to be named a Gold Glover at catcher four times.
Molina beat out Atlanta's Brian McCann and the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz, the other two finalists, for the award. He becomes the first catcher to win the award three times as a Cardinal, breaking a tie with Mike Matheny and Tom Pagnozzi.
Matheny actually made the announcement during the awards show on ESPN2. The former Cardinal, Brewer, Blue Jay, and Giant, who was one of Molina's catching mentors, handed over the starting job in St. Louis to Molina following the 2004 season.
NL GOLD GLOVE WINNERS
The National League winners of the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, with the number of Gold Gloves each has won.
Yadier Molina, Cardinals
Joey Votto, Reds
Brandon Phillips, Reds
Placido Polanco, Phillies
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
Gerardo Parra, D-backs
Matt Kemp, Dodgers
Andre Ethier, Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Managers and coaches vote on Gold Glove winners. Kyle Lohse, Daniel Descalso and Matt Holliday were runners-up for Gold Gloves at pitcher, third base and left field, respectively. Lohse finished behind the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, Descalso was beaten out by the Phillies' Placido Polanco and Holliday was a runner-up to Arizona's Gerardo Parra.
Molina's defensive numbers were down a bit in 2011, but he is still widely regarded as quite possibly the best defensive catcher in the game. He finished second among NL catchers in innings (1,150), sixth in assists (67), fourth in fielding percentage (.995) and fourth in percentage of runners caught stealing (29.2 percent).
Known for his extremely strong arm, Molina allowed the fewest stolen bases of any of the eight qualifying catchers in the NL (46). That, in fact, may be the strongest statement -- many opponents have simply stopped trying to run on him.
The youngest of three Major League catching brothers, Molina is the fifth catcher to win four Gold Gloves in the NL. Only Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Bench, Bob Boone, Jim Sundberg and Bill Freehan have more than four catching Gold Gloves all time.