Markakis deal still in limbo amid Orioles’ Gold Glove haul
By Steve Katz
The never-completely-on, never-completely-off contract saga of Nick Markakis is another day older and still somewhere in limbo. The Gold Glove he won Tuesday had to make the waiting easier, though. Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy joined Markakis in winning a hat trick of hardware.
Nick Markakis catches a fly ball against the Kansas City Royals during the second inning in game four of the 2014 ALCS at Kauffman Stadium, October 15. Photo: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
You had to like the way Jones called it a team award, acknowledged the help of the coaching staff of Wayne Kirby, who works with the outfielders, and Bobby Dickerson, who works with the infielders, and cited the rich history of Gold Glove winners the Baltimore Orioles have been known for.
The funny aspect is that Jones can sometimes be seen waving off the positioning instructions Kirby signals from the dugout, but he appreciated Kirby at the appropriate time. A certain number of errors per year is allowed in the eyes of the voters, and Jones’ aversion to hitting the cutoff man has continued to be a flaw in his game.
Runners and third base coaches know they can take liberties on his arm, which is and always has been as erratic as it is strong, even though he had seven outfield assists, to go with six errors. His leaping catch at the wall and throw to second base for a double play was one of the defensive highlights of the year.
Is there a better gloveman playing center in the American League? While watching the ALCS, I was convinced if there was one, it was Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain, a year younger but with less Major League experience than Jones. But he doesn’t play every game, and sometimes gets pulled for defensive purposes, even though he’s fast and surehanded.
Hardy made a few errors himself, and Markakis, for all his brilliance at playing the Camden Yards right field wall and holding runners to singles, occasionally loses something on his throws home. His body of work is what the voters looked at.
There were no injustices among the Gold Glove awards. But there was one in the fact that Nelson Cruz was not among the three finalists for the MVP Award, to be announced next week. The finalists were Mike Trout of the Angels, Victor Martinez of the Tigers, and Cleveland’s Michael Brantley.
Trout hit .287/.377/.561 with 39 doubles, 36 home runs, and led the AL with both 115 runs and 111 RBI. At 22, he also stole 16 bases in 18 attempts.
His PED suspension may have worked against Cruz in being left off the final three in the MVP race
Can a guy who led baseball with 40 homers and drove in 108 Martinez had a career year for the Tigers, hitting .335/.409/.565 with 32 home runs and 33 doubles, all while striking out just 42 times. The designated hitter led the league in on-base percentage and OPS, and finished second in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS+ (168).
Brantley hit .327/.385/.506 with 20 home runs and 45 doubles for Cleveland while patrolling left and center field.
That was a decent year, but can’t a guy who led the Major Leagues with 40 homers and drove in 108 runs have a place at the table? His approximately two-month slump this season and the still fresh memory of his PED suspension last year may have worked against him.