All season long, Orioles manager Buck Showalter would talk about J.J. Hardy’s defense.
“He’s better than I thought,” Showalter invariably said. Then, he’d go on to describe a nuance of Hardy’s play.
Showalter was delighted when Hardy won his first Gold Glove Award at shortstop on Tuesday night. His happiness was tripled when Matt Wieters won his second Gold Glove at catcher and Adam Jones his second. The Orioles were the only team in the majors to win three Gold Gloves.
“We turned into a good defensive team,” Showalter said in a conference call with the three winners after the awards were announced.
“They made their teammates better.”
Hardy expressed some surprise, saying that he’d come to expect the award to go to a shortstop who was “flashy.”
“I never felt that people noticed until Buck pointed it out,” Hardy said. “It surprises me. It’s an award I always hoped to get.”
Showalter disagreed with Hardy.
“I consider all these guys flashy. Their style is their substance,” he said. “It’s an honor to watch them.”
The manager, who’s still recuperating from partial knee replacement surgery, said he was forced to talk about Hardy.
“I had no choice. He was making three [outstanding] plays every night.”
Jones won his first award in 2009 when outfielders were grouped together.
“It was always two center fielders and Ichiro [Suzuki],” Jones said
Last year, the awards were given by position for the first time and now Jones won one in center field.
“It’s not just me out there making diving catches,” Jones said. “It’s making all the routine plays.”
The three winners know how important the awards were because the team won.
“This one is earned because the team won,” Jones said. “These guys made me better. We all made each other better.”
The awards are voted on by managers and coaches.
“I think it’s something you can take pride in,” Wieters said. “That’s what you’re going to have on winning teams, guys feeding off each other.”
Showalter said the awards will help change the impression of the Orioles.
“We turned into a good defensive team,” Showalter said. He pointed out that the reason the Orioles called up Manny Machado in August was because of his defense. Showalter said that Mark Reynolds’ first base play was laudable, too.
“If Nicky [Markakis] could have stayed healthy, we could have had four,” Showalter said.
Markakis won the award last year in right field.