We will find out tonight which Orioles win Gold Gloves.
In today’s edition of The Baltimore Sun, I broke down each of the six positions in which Orioles are nominated for Gold Gloves and predicted wins for third baseman Manny Machado, catcher Matt Wieters and shortstop J.J. Hardy. Read more about that here.
A few days ago, I also took a look at the new defensive analytic that will make up about 25 to 30 percent of the vote and will also undoubtedly affect the way the award is decided. I think it will play a major role in deciding whether center fielder Adam Jones repeats as a Gold Glove winner. While Jones is obviously a splendid defender, he trails fellow finalists Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox and Lorenzo Cain of the Kansas City Royals in several key statistical categories that now matter.
We’ll see. How much the new format will affect the outcome of the awards is unknown. But going from it being decided exclusively by managers and coaches voting to their votes counting for just 70 to 75 percent has to change things. If anything, it adds a little extra intrigue before the awards are announced that will likely be followed by some extra debate if there’s a controversial outcome.
Machado deserves a Gold Glove. There’s no way around it. And it would be a major surprise if he doesn’t win it. Then again, I’m already surprised that the Texas Rangers' Adrian Beltre was a finalist at third base over the Oakland Athletics' Josh Donaldson. With all respect to Beltre, a back-to-back Gold Glove award winner, that goes to show that some players are still getting selected on reputation alone.
While we're on the subject of the Gold Gloves, the annual Fielding Bible Awards were announced Monday evening. Credit the Fielding Bible, whose 12-person voting panel leans heavily toward sabermetric components in deciding the top fielders, for pushing the Gold Glove to add its analytic component.
The Fielding Bible awards the best defender at each position across both leagues, and Machado won the award for third base. They lean heavily on the defensive runs saved (DRS) statistic, and Machado’s 35 defensive runs saved were the best among all American League fielders and set a record for the highest total at his position, topping Ryan Zimmerman's 25 defensive runs saved for the Washington Nationals in 2009.
Only Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (41), Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez (38) and Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Gerardo Parra (36) were better than Machado overall in DRS this season.
Here's another interesting statistic from The Fielding Bible that is telling when it comes to showing Machado's range -- compared to the average third baseman, Machado made 11 more plays to his right, 14 more plays to his left and 15 more plays straight on. No other third baseman has ever recorded double digits in all three directions.
Maybe that's why one high-ranking Orioles official told me Machado's 2013 campaign was the best defensive season he's seen in 30 years.
Meanwhile, the wait continues for the Orioles to announce their new pitching coach. That could come any day now. At this point, it seems to be that a decision among the four external candidates has been made, but the club is just making sure that decision is the right one -- even though everything coming out of The Warehouse is that they can’t go wrong with the caliber of the coaches they interviewed.
Still, it’s a decision you want to get right. All four can do the job, but finding the best fit is the most important thing. Pitching is likely the one thing that is currently separating the Orioles from what they are now and what they can be. And the organization is dedicated to improving by developing its existing stable of pitchers, so whoever the Orioles pick to be the next pitching coach should not only have that strength, but embrace that philosophy over the long haul.
One note on the Arizona Fall League: Orioles pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez allowed two runs over three innings Monday in his fourth start of the fall, but there were definitely some positive signs there.
There have been recent whispers that the 20-year-old Rodriguez is fatigued, and he has walked five batters over his previous two starts over a span of six innings. But on Monday, he struck out four and walked none.
It will be interesting to see how the Orioles move forward with Rodriguez’s innings, especially if they find he is tired. Rodriguez and fellow left-hander Tim Berry were selected for Saturday’s Fall Stars Game. Maybe that’ll be one of Rodriguez’s final outings of the fall.