Along the hallway that connects the Orioles clubhouse to the dugout, hanging not far from large photos of the franchise's Hall of Famers, are pictures of each of the current Orioles who have won Gold Glove awards.
The organization's dedication to defense has been a key ingredient to the Orioles' resurgence over the past two seasons, and their current crop of fielders evokes memories of yesteryear's teams built on stingy defense.
On Tuesday, three Orioles — shortstop J.J. Hardy, center fielder Adam Jones and third baseman Manny Machado — won Gold Glove awards, marking the first time that three or more Orioles won in consecutive seasons since 1975 and 1976.
“We've carved out a special niche down the hall,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We've had so many great players in our organization, but I also want to honor the players who are here now. These are the gold ol' days, so to speak, we hope and we want to honor defense. … And rightfully so. It should be.”
The Orioles' three awards in 2013 tied with the Kansas City Royals for the most in the majors this season. They also became the first American League team to win at least three Gold Gloves in consecutive seasons in a decade, since the 2002 and 2003 Seattle Mariners.
The 21-year-old Machado won a Gold Glove in his first full major league season, becoming the first Orioles third baseman to win since Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson won his last of 16 Gold Gloves — a record for a position player — in 1975.
Hardy also joined franchise fielding royalty as the third Orioles shortstop to win in consecutive seasons, joining Mark Belanger, who won six straight from 1973 to 1978 and Cal Ripken Jr. (1991 and 1992).
Jones, who became the ninth player in franchise history to collect at least three Gold Gloves, joined Paul Blair as the only Orioles center fielders to win Gold Gloves in consecutive seasons. Blair won the award seven consecutive seasons from 1969 to 1975.
With the three awards this season, the Orioles (67) surpassed the Yankees (64) for most Gold Gloves by an American League team, trailing just the St. Louis Cardinals (84).
Six Orioles were named finalists this season, tied for the most since Rawlings began announcing the top three players at each position in 2011. Last year's Cincinnati Reds also had six finalists, but no winners.
“I don't think I've ever been a part of something like this,” Hardy said. “It's pretty special. Pretty much every position did an outstanding job.”
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who had won the previous two seasons, as well as first baseman Chris Davis, lost out to a pair of Royals — catcher Salvador Perez and first baseman Eric Hosmer. Right fielder Nick Markakis boasted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, but was edged in the vote by Boston's Shane Victorino.
But the Orioles — who set major league defensive records with a .991 team fielding percentage, 119 errorless games and 54 errors in a 162-game season — further established themselves as one of the top defensive teams in the game with Tuesday's individual accolades.
“As a defender and as a team we all put expectations of playing good defense to try to help your team win,” Machado said. “You always have it in the back of your mind that you always want to win a Gold Glove. It was kind of surprising when my name got called.
“It's all a team thing. It's something we've all worked hard for and it's paid off as you can see by how many players were nominated.”
The Gold Glove has been awarded ever year since 1957, but this year a defensive analytic component was added to account for 25 to 30 percent of the vote. The rest of the voting is decided by major league managers and coaches.
On Monday, Machado was the only Orioles player to win The Fielding Bible award at third base. The voting panel of The Fielding Bible tends to heavily consider sabermetrics. Machado led all AL fielders in defensive runs saved (35), total zone rating (32) and ultimate zone rating (31.2) — three metrics used in compiling the Gold Glove's defensive analytic.
Machado's defensive wins above replacement statistic (4.4) led all AL defenders this season and was tied for the eighth-highest of all time at any position. It was also tied for the third highest in Orioles club history: Belanger's 4.9 in 1975, Robinson's 4.5 in 1968 and Belanger's 4.4 in 1968.
Hardy and Machado became the first Orioles' shortstop-third base combo to win in the same season since Robinson and Belanger won in 1975.
Hardy, who became the 15th Orioles player to win the multiple awards, is now one of five active shortstops to win multiple Gold Gloves, joining Derek Jeter (5), Jimmy Rollins (4), Alex Rodriguez (2) and Troy Tulowitzki (2).
This season, Jones led AL center-field finalists with an overall .995 fielding percentage and 11 outfield assists. He led all center fielders in putouts (352) for the third time in the past four seasons.
Jones and Hardy became the first AL teammates to win back-to-back Gold Gloves since Seattle's Adrian Beltre and Ichiro Suzuki accomplished that in 2007 and '08.
“It's just as cool [in comparison to 2012],” Hardy said. “It's something I don't think will ever get old. It's a true honor. It's something that we work hard for and I really appreciate it — the fact that it's all the coaches putting in the votes. This year I think 25 percent went into the stats that no one really understands. But it's a true honor.”
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