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(LEAD) KBO MVP Thames adds Golden Glove to mantelpiece

All Headlines 18:57 December 08, 2015

(ATTN: ADDS details, photo)

SEOUL, Dec. 8 (Yonhap) -- Eric Thames, the reigning MVP of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), added a Golden Glove to his mantelpiece on Tuesday.

Thames, the NC Dinos' slugger, grabbed the Golden Glove at first base over Park Byung-ho, who played for the Nexen Heroes in 2015 and has since signed with the Minnesota Twins.

Thames, who also edged out Park for the MVP honors in November, earned 227 out of 358 votes for his first Golden Glove, while Park had 116. Thames is the first foreign player to win the Golden Glove at first base.

Thames, 29, became the first KBO player ever to enjoy a 40-40 season in 2015, after hitting 47 home runs and stealing 40 bases. He also won the batting title with a .381 average, while leading the league with a .497 on-base percentage and a .790 slugging percentage.

Thames was also first in the league with 130 runs scored, 94 extra-base hits and 42 doubles.

Park, who led the KBO with 53 home runs and became the first to post back-to-back 50-homer seasons, came up short of winning his fourth straight Golden Glove.

Despite its name, the Golden Gloves here aren't necessarily presented to the best defensive players at each position, but to players who put up the best overall offensive numbers. For position players and designated hitters, leaders in major offensive categories automatically become candidates in their respective positions. Pitchers who lead the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts, among other categories, are also automatically shortlisted for the Golden Gloves.

The award is closer to the Silver Slugger than to the Gold Glove in Major League Baseball (MLB). Designated hitters also receive Golden Gloves in the KBO.

Thames' teammate on the mound, Eric Hacker, received the Golden Glove at pitcher, after leading the KBO with 19 wins and finishing second in ERA with 3.13.

Yamaico Navarro of the Samsung Lions won the Golden Glove at second base, becoming the first non-Korean to win at his position. In his second KBO season, the Dominican Republic-native finished second to Park with 48 home runs and third to Park and Thames with 137 RBIs.

There had been only 11 foreign Golden Glove winners prior to this year, and this marks the first time three foreign players won Golden Gloves in the same season. Two foreign players had won the awards each in 1999 and again in 2005.

At designated hitter, Samsung veteran Lee Seung-yuop scooped up his 10th Golden Glove, extending his all-time record. Last year, Lee won his ninth Golden Glove to break a tie with two other players. Lee has won seven at first base and three more at DH. In his age 39 season, Lee, also the KBO's career home run leader with 416, batted a career-high .332 with 26 homers and 90 RBIs.

At 39 years, three months and 20 days, Lee also became the oldest Golden Glove recipient.

Park Sok-min, former Samsung All-Star who recently signed a free agent deal with the Dinos, grabbed the Golden Glove at third base for the second straight year. Park led all third basemen with 116 RBIs, while hitting .321 with 26 home runs.

Kim Jae-ho of the Doosan Bears was the first-time winner at shortstop. He led all players at his position with a .307 average while also flashing the leather for the KBO champ and later the national team at the Premier 12 tournament.

Kim's Doosan teammate Yang Eui-ji grabbed the Golden Glove at catcher for the second straight season. Regarded as the KBO's best two-way catcher, Yang led all backstops with a .326 average, while hitting 20 homers and driving in 93 runs.

The outfield winners were: Yoo Han-joon, who established career-highs with a .362 average, 23 home runs and 116 RBIs for the Nexen Heroes; Kim Hyun-soo, who also posted career-high power numbers with 28 home runs and 121 RBIs for the Bears; and Na Sung-bum of the NC Dinos, who drove in 135 runs to lead all outfielders in 2015.

The Dinos led all clubs with four winners, though one of them, third baseman Park, only joined the team last week as a free agent.

Kim Hyun-soo, a free agent who's pursuing a major league contract, led all winners with 317 votes.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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