The Gold Glove Award finalists were unveiled on Thursday afternoon. This ritual has been one that's brought an embarrassment of riches for the Orioles in recent years. The team has had multiple Gold Glove winners in each of the past four seasons. That streak will be coming to an end in 2015. With the dust settled this time around, the only finalist is Manny Machado at third base.
Remember that the players being labeled as "finalists" is a bit misleading. There will not be any additional voting now that the competition narrowed down to three names at every position. The votes are already in. One of the three at each position is the winner. The winners will be announced on November 10 on a special show on ESPN.
The Orioles at least have a decent chance to keep alive a streak of winning at least one Gold Glove thanks to Machado. The other "finalists" at third base are Adrian Beltre of the Rangers and Evan Longoria of the Rays. Both of those guys have won multiple Gold Gloves in the past. Beltre is a four-time winner, with his last win coming in 2012. Longoria won consecutive Gold Gloves in 2009 and 2010. That makes Machado the least decorated of the bunch.
It's tough to say who will end up as the winner out of that trio. The winner is determined in large part by voting done by players and coaches. That's 75% of the results. Often, though not always, past reputation is worth the most here. The remaining 25% is a component that factors in modern defensive metrics.
A very quick glance at the players' defensive numbers for the year shows that Longoria committed fewer errors but made fewer plays (as measured by Defensive Runs Saved) overall. Beltre and Machado both committed a number of errors in the upper teens but also had DRS ratings in the teens. Since all have won before, a winner doesn't really jump out of the bunch.
The Orioles shut out at every other position
There were three other Gold Glove winners on the O's this year. Little surprise that Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy didn't repeat as finalists or winners. Injuries cost them enough of the season that they never had a chance. In Wieters' case, he clearly was not working with the same skills that enabled him to win two Gold Gloves in the past.
Three-time reigning Gold Glover Adam Jones getting shut out is a bit of a surprise, but even he missed a good chunk of time due to injury this year, playing in only 137 games. Still, even had he played all 162 games, it seems likely that he would have been shoved out of the picture. The finalists at center field are Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays, Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays, and Mike Trout of the Angels.
Orioles fans have gotten all too many looks at Kiermaier and Pillar this season as those two flew all over the outfield tracking down just about anything hit in their direction in the air. Much as it pains me to say it, it seems pretty clear their ability eclipses what Jones brings to the table in the field. As for Trout, well, he had a great year at the plate. It seems unlikely he'll be the winner so there's not much point getting worked up about his inclusion as a finalist. What it really means is he just happened to come in third place.
Hopefully Machado ends up as the winner so the O's can keep saying they've had at least one Gold Glover for five straight years. He has a solid case, but so do his competitors, so we'll have to see in about two weeks.