2011 Oriole Award: Most Surprising Player

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Note: This is a new (and short) off-season feature in which I hand out my own awards to certain Orioles for this season. I will also include a poll at the end of every post so you can vote for your Oriole to win the award. Make sure to read the full article and vote!!

This award is pretty self-explanatory so I’ll just get right into it. Make sure to click to see the full article to vote on the poll!!

1. J.J. Hardy

I thought he deserved to win the Most Valuable Oriole Award over Adam Jones because no one expected him to have such a great season. He basically carried this team both offensively and defensively. He finished the season with a career-high 30 homers, career-tying 80 RBI, a .269 batting average, a .310 on-base percentage, 76 runs scored, and 27 doubles. He also had a career-high .990 fielding percentage and a career-low 6 errors (when playing a full season). I’m so happy that we have this kid for at least 3 more years.

See the other 2 nominees and vote after the jump!

2. Zach Britton

He was the most surprising in both a good and bad way. Taking over for Matusz and getting off to a 5-1 start and a 2.63 ERA was amazing. He was talked about on ESPN and was the talk of an early AL Rookie of the Year. Then he went on a downturn losing his next 8 out of 9 decisions bringing him to a 4.66 ERA. He also was sent down to the minors a few times to control his inning count as well as allow him to work on his pitches after an extremely rough stretch (remember 1 full inning against the Red Sox and Yankees when he gave up 13 hits and 17 runs…ugh I still shudder at that). But, he turned it back around in September earning 3 wins of 5 decisions. He finished the season at an 11-11 record with a 4.61 ERA and 1.45 WHIP and he’s looking to be the ace of the staff in the next few years. I love this guy and can’t wait to see him next season.

3. Jake Arrieta

Brian Matusz probably deserves this spot for all the wrong reasons as previously discussed in another Oriole award post for Worst Injury. So, I’ll focus on the positives and go with Arrieta. He is a solid number 3 in a rotation. I’m actually kind of obsessed over the Britton/Arrieta combo but they both have so much potential and skill that I have hope for the team and I can’t help it. He put together a pretty decent season finishing with a 10-8 record in 22 starts and a 5.05 ERA. The ERA isn’t great but besides Guthrie he was probably the most consistent innings-eater (I did not do any mathematical calculation on this). I would have liked to see how he did in a full season but he left at the beginning of August to get surgery on the bone spur in his elbow. Let’s all pray that this makes him better and not worse like Matusz’s injury did.