Showalter 'proud' of Orioles after American League-leading six Gold Glove finalists
By By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun|
Oct 25, 2013 at 6:54 PM
In rebuilding the Orioles into a contender, manager Buck Showalter knew a greater priority needed to be placed on playing exceptional defense.
Now, after a year during which the club set new standards for defensive excellence, the Orioles are being recognized individually for their defensive play.
Six Orioles were named finalists Friday for Rawlings Gold Glove Awards.
When the winners are announced Tuesday night, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones and catcher Matt Wieters will be going for their third career Gold Gloves. Wieters could win his third consecutive award. Shortstop J.J. Hardy and right fielder Nick Markakis are up for their second career Gold Gloves. Hardy won last season, and Markakis in 2011.
Third baseman Manny Machado and first baseman Chris Davis were first-time finalists.
"I just like the recognition our guys are getting," Showalter said. "I'm proud of them. And when you tell some of coaches like [first base and outfield coach] Wayne Kirby, [third base and infield coach] Bobby Dickerson and [bench and catchers coach] John Russell, they look like proud papas."
The Orioles are the only team with six finalists. The Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers have five finalists, and all four Tampa Bay Rays infielders were named finalists.
"Everybody makes so much of the offense in the American League East, but really it's about your ability to defend the ball and keep it in the ballpark," Showalter said. "That's another way to make your pitching better. I think it's become something we've all tried to create as part of the culture of being an Oriole."
Machado, 21, is considered a favorite to win in his first full big league season. He could become the first Orioles third baseman to win a Gold Glove since 1975, when Brooks Robinson won the last of his 16 straight.
Machado looks to break the current stranglehold on the position held by fellow finalists Adrian Beltre (Texas) and Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay), who have accounted for the past six American League Gold Gloves at third base. Machado (.973) has a better fielding percentage than both Longoria (.972) and Beltre (.959) and further distances himself in more advanced fielding metrics.
First baseman Chris Davis, whose defensive strides were overshadowed by an MVP-caliber season at the plate, was also named a finalist. Only two Orioles first baseman have won the award: Eddie Murray (1982-1984) and Rafael Palmeiro (1997-1998).
There will be a first-time winner at first base this season. Both other finalists — the Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer and the Tampa Bay Rays' James Loney — have yet to win a Gold Glove.
Despite not making the playoffs, the Orioles had one of the best defensive seasons of all time. They set a major league record with a .991 team fielding percentage, and their 54 errors were a record low for a 162-game season. They also had a record 119 errorless games.
Gold Glove winners are decided by a vote of managers and coaches, and a sabermetric element for the first time will account for about 25 to 30 percent of the vote. Rawlings partnered with the Society for American Baseball Research to create a metric — the SABR Defensive Index — that complements the voting process.
The winners will be announced at 8 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN2.
Some of the Orioles' best teams were built on defense, and the franchise has had multiple Gold Glove winners 18 times, including each of the past two seasons. Last year, Jones, Hardy and Wieters were awarded.
The Orioles won a franchise-record four Gold Gloves five times (1969, 1971, 1973, 1974 and 1975).
Since the award began in 1957, the Orioles have won 64 Gold Gloves, third most in the majors, behind the St. Louis Cardinals (76) and New York Yankees (65). They could move into second place this year; second baseman Robinson Cano is the Yankees' only finalist.
Wieters could become the first Oriole to win three straight Gold Glove Awards since right-hander Mike Mussina won four straight from 1996 through 1999. The Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer and Kansas City's Salvador Perez are the other finalists at catcher.
Jones could nab his third career Gold Glove, second most among Orioles outfielders, trailing only Paul Blair's eight. His competition is Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain and Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox.
Hardy, who is up against Kansas City's Alcides Escobar and Tampa Bay's Yunel Escobar, can become the first Orioles shortstop to win back-to-back Gold Gloves since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1991 and 1992. Mark Belanger won eight Gold Gloves at shortstop.
Here are all the finalists:
Pitcher Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays Doug Fister, Tigers
Catcher Joe Mauer, Twins Salvador Perez, Royals Matt Wieters, Orioles
Right field Jay Bruce, Reds Jason Heyward, Braves Gerardo Parra, D-backs
In rebuilding the Orioles back into a contender, manager Buck Showalter knew a greater priority needed to be placed on playing exceptional defense, and this year’s club set new standards for defensive excellence.