BOSTON -- For much of the summer, the Most Valuable Player Award candidacy of three Red Sox players was discussed quite a bit. While it was the offensive numbers of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez that led to all that debate, perhaps not enough was made of their glovework.
It came into focus on Tuesday night, when the terrific trio was unveiled as Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners for 2011.
It was the first time the Red Sox have had three Gold Glove winners since 1979, when Rick Burleson, Dwight Evans and Fred Lynn all won. The only other time in club history that occurred was in '68 (George Scott, Reggie Smith, Carl Yastrzemski).
In fact, this is the first time Boston has had multiple winners since Mike Boddicker and Ellis Burks were recognized in 1990.
The Dodgers were the only other team this season to have three Gold Glove winners.
For Ellsbury, Boston's standout center fielder, it was his first Gold Glove. He didn't make any errors in 394 total chances. Ellsbury led American Leaugue center fielders in starts, innings and putouts.
AL GOLD GLOVE WINNERS
The American League winners of the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, with the number of Gold Gloves each has won.
Matt Wieters, Orioles
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Erick Aybar, Angels
Alex Gordon, Royals
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
Nick Markakis, Orioles
Mark Buehrle, White Sox
Pedroia won for the second time, and the first since his MVP season of 2008.
It was Gonzalez's third Gold Glove, but first in the AL. He won it for the Padres in 2008 and '09.
"It's pretty special," Gonzalez said in an interview with ESPN during the awards presentation show. "Being able to win one in both leagues now, I'm pretty grateful to everyone that voted for me, and it was a lot of fun playing defense this year."
With the Gonzalez-Pedroia tandem, there weren't many grounders that could sneak through the right side of Boston's infield.
"It's pretty awesome hearing that Dustin won it as well. It's fun playing alongside him," Gonzalez said. "We had great communication this year and we move around quite a bit. We communicate every pitch, every hitter. We try to cover the whole right side of the infield, and hopefully we can continue to do it for many years to come."
Ellsbury's stellar glovework was just part of a standout season that ultimately put him at or near the top of the MVP discussion, an honor that will be handed out on Nov. 21.
Last month, Ellsbury was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year.
Making Pedroia's defensive prowess even more impressive is that he played the entire season with a screw inside of his surgically repaired left foot. Not once did Pedroia's range seem compromised.
In fact, he set single-season Red Sox records for a second baseman by playing in 159 games and 1,392 1/3 innings. Pedroia ranked second in the AL in putouts, third in total chances, third in assists and fourth in double plays turned.
When the Red Sox acquired Gonzalez in a blockbuster trade with the Padres last December, all the hype was over the gaudy numbers he would put up in the hitter-friendly confines of Fenway Park. While that proved to be true, Red Sox fans were also treated to slick fielding. One of Gonzalez's signature plays was his aggressive throws across the diamond to get outs at third base.
"I try to be a complete player," Gonzalez said. "You can always go into offensive slumps or times you don't do as great. Defense is something that should never leave you. You can always help a team win on the defensive side of the ball, especially being a first baseman and being able to help out the rest of the guys, and just give them comfort that they don't have to throw it right at my chest every time. They can just give me a chance to help them out and I'll try to do my best."
Gonzalez finished second among AL first baseman with a .998 fielding percentage while leading in games, starts, innings and assists -- while making just four errors.
For Gonzalez, the only bittersweet aspect of the Gold Glove is that it came on the heels of a 7-20 September by the Red Sox, leading to an epic collapse that left the team out of the postseason.
"The only thoughts right now is trying to do next year what St. Louis did this year, and try to win a World Series. That's the only goal," Gonzalez said. "We're talking about the Gold Glove, and personal accomplishments are great, but the only thing that really matters to us is winning a World Series and getting to the playoffs first and foremost, which we weren't able to do this year.
"The only thing on my mind right now is what I can do to help the team. Hopefully, everybody else on the team is doing the same thing, and next year we can come in hungrier than we were this year so we can actually get it done."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.