Three Orioles players were named American League Gold Glove finalists for the second straight season, and just as in 2011, two O’s players should win the game’s highest honor in fielding when they are announced tonight.
Catcher Matt Wieters appears likely to win his second straight Gold Glove despite committing 10 errors this season, most of any AL catcher and five more than he recorded in 2011. Wieters threw out 38.6 percent of base runners attempting to steal against him, the best percentage among the four Gold Glove finalists at the position – Detroit’s Alex Avila, New York’s Russell Martin and Chicago’s A.J. Pierzynski are also finalists.
Wieters’ rate of throwing out base runners is 2 percentage points better than last season's -- and fewer runners attempted steals – 83 this season compared with 92 last year. Wieters also led AL catchers in games played (134), putouts (994) and total zone runs (nine).
Also, it’s just one reporter’s opinion, but I believe Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy will win his first career Gold Glove. Hardy, who made just six errors in 158 games, doesn’t have the flash that often gets recognized at the position, but he’s one of the most consistent fielders in the game. After Hardy led AL shortstops in fielding percentage (.990) last year, it’s time that his glove gets noticed.
Although Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan just won the Fielding Bible award for shortstop, Hardy led AL shortstops in fielding percentage (.992), assists (529), putouts (244), total zone runs (21) and range factor per game (4.89).
Ryan wasn’t in the top five in any of those categories, but he was named the top defender in all of baseball in the Fielding Bible awards, which are based intensely on sabermetrics. Ryan led major league shortstops with 27 runs saved, while Hardy had 18 and third finalist Elvis Andrus of Texas had eight. Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, last year’s winner, isn’t a finalist this season.
While the Gold Glove is based on fielding, most players have recorded more offensive output than Ryan, who hit just .194 in 2012.
Center fielder Adam Jones was also nominated to win his second career Gold Glove – he won his first in 2009 – but he seems to be a dark horse to Angels rookie and defensive highlight reel Mike Trout. Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson is also a finalist.
But Trout’s profile – he’s a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year and a top candidate for AL MVP – is likely too much to overcome for Jones this season. Just ask Hardy, who was robbed of a home run by Trout in June at Camden Yards with what many believe was the best defensive catch of the season.
The Gold Glove awards will be announced tonight starting at 9:30 on ESPN2.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun