In a year in which their overall defense was maligned for much of the season, the Orioles took home three 2012 American League Gold Glove awards on Tuesday night.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy, catcher Matt Wieters, and center fielder Adam Jones won hardware as Baltimore nabbed three defensive awards in the same year for the first time since 1998. The Orioles’ three winners were the most of any team in baseball this season.
The Orioles’ overall defense struggled for much of the season, but the trio of defenders was exceptional at their respective positions throughout the year.
Perhaps the most deserving of the Orioles’ three winners was Hardy, who nabbed his first Gold Glove after a remarkable season at shortstop. The 30-year-old infielder committed only six errors and posted a career-high .992 fielding percentage to lead the AL. His fielding percentage was the highest by an Orioles shortstop since Mike Bordick had a .998 mark in 2002.
Hardy also led AL shortstops in games (158), putouts (244), assists (529), range factor per game (4.89), defensive wins above replacement (2.8) and total zone runs (21).
He is the fourth Orioles shortstop to win a Gold Glove, joining Luis Aparicio (1964 and 1966), Mark Belanger (1969, 1971, 1973-78), and Cal Ripken Jr. (1991-92).
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus and Seattle’s Brendan Ryan were the other AL finalists at the shortstop position.
The 26-year-old Wieters took home the AL award for the second straight year despite committing a career-high 10 errors and five passed balls. However, the strong-armed catcher threw out 38.6 percent of runners attempting to steal — third in the AL — as he built upon his reputation as one of the best defensive catchers in the game.
His 994 putouts were the third-most in AL history for a catcher and the most since former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada had 996 in 2001.
Detroit’s Alex Avila, Yankees catcher Russell Martin, and Chicago’s A.J. Pierzynski were the other finalists at the catcher position for the award.
Earning his first Gold Glove since the 2009 season and second overall, Jones surprisingly edged out rookie sensation Mike Trout for the center field honor. The 27-year-old committed eight errors and had a .982 fielding percentage, but managers and coaches around the league love Jones’ range and strong throwing arm. Jones led AL center fielders in putouts (439), ranked second in range factor per game (2.75), and third in assists (seven).
Jones is one of three Orioles outfielders who have won Gold Glove awards, with Paul Blair (1967 and 1969-75) and Nick Markakis (2011) being the others.
In addition to Trout, Jones edged out Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson for the AL honor.
This marks the 18th season in which the Orioles have won multiple Gold Glove awards in the same year. Their three winners were the most the Orioles have had in a season since 1998 when pitcher Mike Mussina, second baseman Roberto Alomar, and first baseman Rafael Palmeiro each claimed one. It’s the ninth time in club history the Orioles have had at least three winners.
Sixteen different Orioles players have earned a total of 64 Gold Glove awards since the honor was created in 1957. It’s the second most in the AL and one fewer than the New York Yankees.