LaRoche, Desmond finalists for Gold Gloves

Two Nationals players are in the mix for Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, which are presented annually to the best defensive players in both the American League and National League at every fielding position.

First baseman Adam LaRoche and shortstop Ian Desmond have been selected as finalists for the awards, which will be handed out tomorrow night at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2. Neither player has previously won a Gold Glove.

LaRoche will be up against Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and Cincinnati’s Joey Votto.

Desmond has three other finalists to contend with: Cincinnati’s Zack Cozart, Miami’s Jose Reyes and Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins.

The slick-fielding LaRoche posted a .995 fielding percentage and made seven errors this season. He had a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of 6.1, second-best among NL first baseman behind Votto (6.5).

Nationals infielders and manager Davey Johnson credited LaRoche countless times throughout this season for his defensive efforts, taking away would-be errors for teammates and giving the Nats a stable defensive presence at first base.

Desmond continued to improve defensively this season, putting up a fielding percentage of .970 and cutting his error total to 15, down from 23 last year and 34 in 2010. His UZR of 4.8 ranked fourth among NL shortstops.

Second baseman Danny Espinosa was not named as a finalist after finishing fourth in the NL with a 7.1 UZR.

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