Backed by his blazing speed, Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury had no problem diving onto the warning-track dirt or into a patch of grass to make a highlight-reel catch.

Though he is known best for his basestealing ability -- particularly when he stole home in April against the Yankees -- Ellsbury's glove-work in center got him enough notice to be selected as the Defensive Player of the Year in MLB.com's annual This Year in Baseball Awards.

Once again, the fans voted in record numbers when given the chance to weigh in on the season's best players, plays and moments in the 2009 This Year in Baseball Awards, as more than 12 million votes were cast on MLB.com. Winners will be presented their trophies on the field in 2010.

Ellsbury won a close race against Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

The two errors Ellsbury made in 2009 were the first of his career. He has handled his other 772 chances in the Majors cleanly for a fielding percentage of .997.

One of Ellsbury's most memorable grabs of the season came on June 7 at Fenway, when he raced back to the triangle area in right-center and fully extended himself, making a sprawling catch onto the warning-track dirt.

NESN broadcaster Don Orsillo was in near disbelief, bellowing, "Jacoby Ellsbury with the catch of the year, back at the 420-mark with full extension."

Dennis Eckersley, filling in for Jerry Remy as the color commentator that day, added, "You won't see a better catch all year."

But there would be several more dazzling grabs by Ellsbury before the season was over.

It was also a strong year for Ellsbury offensively, as he hit .301, scored 94 runs, stole 70 bases and had an on-base percentage of .355.