Orioles' record defensive year yields 3 Gold Gloves

Orioles' record defensive year yields 3 Gold Gloves
October 29, 2013, 9:45 pm

When Buck Showalter looks over a team that’s won three Gold Gloves for the second straight time, he has some pride. He’s managing a team that has a tradition of excellent defenders, in the past, and now.

“These are the good old days, I hope,” Showalter said.

The Orioles set major league records for fewest errors in a season, most errorless games and highest fielding percentage. As a reward for these achievements, three Orioles, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Manny Machado, were awarded Gold Gloves on Tuesday night.

It’s Machado’s first, the second straight for both Hardy and Jones, and the third overall for the centerfielder, who announced his engagement earlier in the day.

“If you’re going to play for the Baltimore Orioles, you’re going to have to play good defense,” Showalter said.

The Orioles and Kansas City Royals each had three Gold Glove winners. It’s the second consecutive year the Orioles won three Gold Gloves.

Matt Wieters, who had won it the previous two years, Nick Markakis, a 2011 winner and Chris Davis, were also finalists. The Orioles led the major leagues with six finalists.

Machado’s nightly highlight plays make him a popular choice with both the traditional crowd and the sabermetric one. He led AL third basemen in fielding percentage, assists, double plays and his 32 Total Zone Runs led the majors.

As a 21-year-old playing his first full season in the big leagues, Machado’s competition was Texas’ Adrian Beltre and Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria, who had won the previous six awards.

“I was surprised when my name got called,” Machado admitted.

“As a defender, we all put expectations on ourselves.”

He lauded Hardy, Davis and third base coach Bobby Dickerson for their work with him.

“It’s all a team thing,” Machado said. “We worked hard for it, and it paid off.”

Machado, who underwent surgery on his left knee earlier this month, said his rehab, which is in its second week is going well.

“Hopefully, I’ll be ready for the spring,” Machado said.

He’s the first Orioles third baseman to win the award since 1975 when Brooks Robinson won the last of his 16 straight Gold Gloves. Machado hopes he can have a similar string of awards.

“I sure hope so. To be in the same category for the same team he played for, that’s special,” Machado said.

Hardy is the third Orioles shortstop to win the Gold Glove in consecutive years joining Mark Belanger and Cal Ripken. He led AL shortstops in games played and double plays.

“It’s something that I don’t think will ever get old,” Hardy said.

Hardy was aware that there were defensive stats used in computing the award, and he thought they helped make the Orioles’ case.

“I think the stats kind of show it, and I don’t think we look at it until the end of the year. Pretty much every position did an excellent job,” Hardy said.

Jones, who is vacationing in Paris with his now-fiancee Audie Fugett, won his first award in 2009, and this year led centerfielders in games, assists and putouts.

He joins Paul Blair as the only Orioles’ outfielders to win a Gold Glove in consecutive seasons.

Jones and Hardy are the first teammates to win consecutive awards since Seattle’s Adrian Beltre and Ichiro Suzuki won Gold Gloves in 2007 and 2008.

The Orioles are the first AL team since the 2002-03 Mariners to win three Gold Gloves in consecutive seasons and the 10th time the team had at least three win the award in the same season.

Seventeen Orioles have won 67 Gold Gloves since the awards began in 1957, the most in the American league, and the second-highest in baseball behind St. Louis’ 84.