Will any Orioles strike gold?
The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards will be announced on a special ESPN2 telecast Tuesday night at 10 p.m. (EDT), so you should probably switch over from Parenthood or Body of Proof long enough to see if any Orioles are in the mix.
If I were a betting man – and somebody actually took bets on who would win the 18 Gold Gloves – I would put my entire Orioles bankroll on Matt Wieters to take home the hardware at his position. He had a terrific year behind the plate and (though it shouldn’t matter but does) had very solid offensive numbers for a catcher. He's a finalist alongside White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski and Detroit's Alex Avila.
Orioles fans can easily make a case for several more O’s, including terrific all-around shortstop J.J. Hardy, the too-long-ignored Nick Markakis and 2009 Gold Glove winner Adam Jones. It’ll be interesting to see how the rule change that now awards a Gold Glove to each outfield position (instead of honoring the top three outfielders in each league regardless of where exactly they play) will impact the voting, which is done by the managers and coaches.
I’m guessing that hurt Jones, who already is on the outside looking in. He was not listed among the finalists in a release that went out from ESPN about tomorrow night's broadcast. The old format tended to favor center fielders, so the change could possibly help Markakis for the same reason. He annually is among the leaders in assists and this year did not make an error in 157 games in right field. He's a finalist in right field along with Angels veteran Torii Hunter and Kansas City's Jeff Francoeur.
Right or wrong, big offensive numbers tend to impact the Gold Gloves, so Hunter may actually be the better bet to win the award in right field since he had the best all-around statistics and won nine Gold Gloves as a center fielder before moving to right.
It’s hard to imagine anybody being more deserving than Hardy at shortstop after a comeback season in which he hit 30 home runs and led American League shortstops in fielding percentage, but he's up against a couple of guys -- Erick Aybar and Asdrubal Cabrera -- who had big years for contending teams. Cabrera also had a terrific offensive season (25 homers, 92 RBI), but made 15 errors and had fewer total chances and assists than Hardy even though he played a full season and Hardy missed a several weeks with an injury.
The Gold Glove voting system is still open to question, since a lot of players over the years have gotten trophies based on factors that probably shouldn’t outweight their pure defensive performance, but they got it right with Brooks 16 straight times, so all is forgiven in advance.