Last night shortstop J.J. Hardy, center fielder Adam Jones, and catcher Matt Wieters took home some gold hardware, as they were awarded the American League gold gloves for their respective positions. This is Hardy’s first career gold glove and Wieters and Jones’ second. (It’s Wieters’ second in as many years.) Weiters finished with a fielding percentage of .991, had 994 putouts, 52 assists, and committed 10 errors. Hardy finished with a fielding percentage of .992, participated in 113 double-plays, had 529 assists, 244 putouts, and committed six errors. Jones had a fielding percentage of .982, and had 439 putouts while committing eight errors.
These awards should not come as too much of a surprise to Orioles fans, as most are well aware of what these respective players bring to the table. There was some talk about Wieters doubling his error total from 2011 (from five up to ten), however we must also remember that the ebb and flow of every season is different. The same people who pointed to the errors also conveniently neglected to mention that Wieters’ rate of throwing out base runners was also two percentage points higher year-over-year.
Hardy was just beaten out by Seattle’s Brendan Ryan for the Fielding Bible award for shortstops. While Hardy led the American League in fielding percentage, assists, putouts, total zone runs (21), and range factor per game (4.89), Ryan didn’t finish in the top five in any of those categories. (That makes him an interesting choice for the Fielding Bible award to say the least.) Nevertheless, Hardy has long deserved such an award given that he’s always had a solid glove at short.
If there was a surprise in all of this, it had to be Adam Jones. While Jones obviously had a career year, the conventional wisdom among the media appeared to be that the award would go to Mike Trout. However let’s keep in mind that this award is voted upon by the managers and coaches. I’ll admit that on Jones’ behalf and on that of Baltimore Orioles’ fans I was a little disappointed in ESPN’s reaction to the announcement (evidenced by this tweet). Trout is a great player and he had a great year. However again, this award is voted on by the coaches and managers; what Jones’ selection tells us is that the coaches don’t get caught up on what we might term media darlings. Obviously most felt that Jones’ experience put him over the top as opposed to Trout.
With Wieters and Jones now winning their second Gold Gloves and J.J. Hardy his first, the Orioles are now seeing the fruits of their labor over the years pay off. Back in the days of Brooks & Frank, Paul Blair, Mark Belanger, et al, defense was a priority for the Baltimore Orioles. We’re now seeing a return to that; six gold glove award winners in four seasons is pretty impressive. Orioles fans should be proud that three of their players were nominated for Gold Gloves, and all three took them home. This was the first time since 1998 when three different Orioles won gold.
It’s unclear when these three will formally be given their awards, although Markakis and Wieters got their gold gloves as part of the Opening Day festivities this year. I think that was supposed to be part of the 20th anniversary celebration of Camden Yards, however in general I’d prefer that the Orioles present the gold gloves prior to another game so as not to have the ceremony be overshadowed by Opening Day itself. Nevertheless, on behalf of Birds Watcher and the Fansided Network, congratulations to Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and J.J. Hardy on their gold gloves!