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LaRoche earns inaugural Wilson defensive award

LaRoche earns inaugural Wilson defensive award

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LaRoche earns inaugural Wilson defensive award

WASHINGTON -- After an impressive season at first base for the National League East champion Nationals, Adam LaRoche took home the team's inaugural Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Each team had one player selected as its defensive player of the year, and LaRoche was the Nats' recipient. All of the winners were announced Sunday night on MLB Network.

It's no surprise the free agent earned the honor, as LaRoche was nearly flawless with the glove this past season, leading all NL first basemen in fielding percentage (.995), games started (149) and innings (1,323 1/3).

LaRoche also paced NL first basemen (minimum 1,000 innings) in Ultimate Zone Rating, a figure that blends the number of runs above or below average a fielder is in three categories: range runs, double-play runs and error runs combined. He also led the NL with 159 plays made and 38 plays made out of zone.

It was LaRoche's glove that made the Nationals one of the best defensive teams in baseball. It seemed like he saved third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, shortstop Ian Desmond and second baseman Danny Espinosa from throwing errors on a regular basis.

LaRoche, who often made diving plays or scooped balls in the dirt to prevent a run from scoring, established himself as arguably the best defensive first baseman in Nats history.

LaRoche should also be in the mix for the Defensive Player of the Year in the 2012 Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards (GIBBYs), which are based on voting by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni and the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as fan balloting on MLB.com.

From Nov. 12 through Dec. 2, fans will be able to cast their ballots at MLB.com for the year's top defensive star, with no individual league affiliation.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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