Three Orioles players are finalists for American League Gold Glove Awards, which are scheduled to be announced Tuesday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, and they all have a good shot at winning.
If center fielder Adam Jones earns his fourth career Gold Glove, it would tie him for the third-most in Orioles history. Third baseman Brooks Robinson won 16, center fielder Paul Blair and shortstop Mark Belanger each won eight, and right-handers Jim Palmer, Mike Mussina and second baseman Bobby Grich each won four in Orioles uniforms.
Both Jones and shortstop J.J. Hardy could win the award for the third consecutive year. Right fielder Nick Markakis, who won his first Gold Glove in 2011, is the club's third finalist this season.
Winners are selected by a combination of the vote of managers and coaches — a maximum of seven from each club can vote, but they can't select players on their own team — and a sabermetric equivalent.
The vote from managers and coaches accounts for 75 percent of the selection process and the SABR defensive index — a metric development with by title sponsor Rawlings partnering with the Society for American Baseball Research — accounts for the remaining 25 percent.
Still, many factors go into the selection of a Gold Glove winner — including reputation. That should help the Orioles' three previous winners this year, especially against a group rich with first-time finalists.
The brighter national spotlight on the Orioles as they won the American League East for the first time since 1997 also should help Jones, Hardy and Markakis. Voting was completed at the end of the regular season, so postseason accolades did not come into play.
Jones, Hardy and third baseman Manny Machado all won Gold Gloves last season, so this year could mark the first time that at least three Orioles win the award in consecutive seasons since 1973 to 1976.
The Orioles head into Tuesday's announcement having won the most Gold Glove awards of any AL team (67), and second-most in the major leagues to the St. Louis Cardinals (84).
Here's a closer look at the Orioles' three Gold Glove finalists, including a case for why each player will or won't win the award.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy
Why he'll win: After winning the award the last two seasons, Hardy has earned the reputation of being the best defensive shortstop in the league. He did nothing to change that perception, leading AL shortstops in total zone runs (14), while posting more defensive runs saved (10) and a better range factor (4.12) than 2013. He was tied with fellow finalist Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox with the second-best fielding percentage (.978) by an AL shortstop.
Why he won't win: His competition for the award — Ramirez and Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar — both have more flash to their games and make more highlight plays. Escobar compiled 14 Web Gems this season, tied for most in baseball, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Ramirez turned 119 double plays, most of all AL shortstops, and he led the position in range factor per game (4.31). Hardy committed 13 errors in 2014, more than either of the previous two seasons, but five came during a four-game stretch in June.
Does he win?: Yes, as long as the voters went with substance over style.
Center fielder Adam Jones
Why he'll win: Like Hardy, it helps that he won the award the last two years. Jones recorded seven outfield assists, fourth among AL center fielders, and his three double plays turned ranked second among AL center fielders. Jones' reputation as one of the top center fielders in the game, as well as the fact that he played a league-high 155 games in center field, should make him the favorite. And there was no brighter spotlight on the Orioles this season. His 374 putouts were the most of the three finalists.
Why he won't win: Defensive analytics don't reward Jones, especially against his fellow finalists. The White Sox's Adam Eaton ranked in the top five among AL center fielders in fielding percentage (.988) and range factor per game (2.65). Despite playing just 113 games in center field, the Boston Red Sox's Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 13 outfield assists were second among all outfielders, and his eight double plays turned led all AL outfielders.
Does he win?: Yes, because Bradley simply didn't play in enough games for managers and coaches to see him.
Right fielder Nick Markakis
Why he'll win: Markakis has not committed an error since Aug. 10, 2012, a span of 328 games. He went 306 defensive chances without an error this season. Markakis' 11 outfield assists were the second-most of any AL right fielder and the only right fielder with more — the Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista (12) — isn't a Gold Glove finalist. Markakis' 2.08 range factor per game was the best among the three finalists, and he made his share of highlight-caliber plays. He played in 147 games in right field (and, like Jones, would have played more had the Orioles not won the AL East in mid-September) and led AL right fielders with 295 putouts
Why he won't win: Los Angeles Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun and Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier both recorded seven total zone runs at the position, which was better than Markakis' six. But that shouldn't cancel out Markakis' steady play in right field.
Does he win?: Yes. He's the best defensive player of the bunch with two first-time finalists as his competition.