In a year where it seemed that so few things went right for the Baltimore Orioles, and so few players seemed to be able to grab the bull by the horns, perhaps last night the team got a bit of redemption. Catcher Matt Wieters and right fielder Nick Markakis were awarded their first ever Rawlings Gold Glove awards for their work in the field this past season. (J.J. Hardy was also nominated for shortstop, however the Angels’ Erick Aybar was given the award, and probably deservedly so.) Wieters and Markakis are the first Oriole Gold Glovers since Adam Jones won it in 2009, and it’s the first time that multiple Orioles have won the award since 1998 when Palmeiro, Alomar, and Mussina each won the award. One stat I didn’t know until last night was that the Orioles now have 61 Gold Gloves in their history (including Wieters and Markakis), which is third league-wide behind only the Yankees and the Cardinals. I’d be remiss if I didn’t work in the fact that this number is due in large part to Brooks Robinson’s 16 STRAIGHT Gold Gloves. (Have I mentioned that Brooksie’s the greatest third baseman of all time?!)
Wieters-In 2011 Matt Wieters caught in 132 games (starting 129 of them), had 70 assists, 855 put-outs, participated in 14 double-plays, and committed only five errors. All in all, he had a fielding percentage of .955. Wieters also became the first catcher in Orioles’ history to win the Gold Glove award. If you think about it, that includes some pretty exclusive names such as Rick Dempsey and Gus Triandos. To this point I’ve always said that Dempsey was the best catcher in Oriole history, and I stand by that statement at this point in time. However I do expect Wieters to be better when it’s all said and done with, and I think that Rick Dempsey would probably agree. One way or the other, Wieters is the first and only Gold Glove catcher in Oriole history.
Markakis-Nick Markakis played in 157 games at right field in 2011 (along with three at first base and one as a DH), with 311 put-outs, 14 assists, and a fielding percentage of 1.000. No, that’s not a misprint; Markakis didn’t committ an error the entire season. In monitoring my twitter account last night during the presentation, I did notice some discussion about Markakis possibly not deserving the award this year as opposed to in the past. His put-outs were down slightly, however you can’t argue with the fielding percentage. Furthermore, Markakis might have secured the Gold Glove award in game two of the season in Tampa when he took either a double or a home run away from the Rays in the last of the ninth in extremely dramatic fashion. It was plays like that and many others in right field over the course of the year which won this award for Nick Markakis.
Both of these Orioles are very deserving. I’m especially happy for Markakis, as in my opinion he’s been snubbed on various other occasions. Incidentally, it wasn’t lost on me that ESPN invited former Oriole (and an eight-time Gold Glove winner in his own right) Paul Blair to announce the winners in the outfield. So not only do you have Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis winning Gold Gloves, but you have an Oriole legend up there announcing the outfield awards (including Markakis’). There’s a certain orange and black symmetry about that, encompassing the past, present, and future of the Baltimore Orioles. One can only hope that it symbolizes what will be known as a return to glory.