It’s been seven years since Manny Machado won a Gold Glove at third base for the Orioles, and in that time no other O’s player has won anything. For a lot of that time, the drought isn’t exactly surprising. The Orioles didn’t have very good players at any position on the diamond, and the poor quality of fielding showed regularly.
Things have been different in 2022, with the team as a whole scoring well on public defensive metrics like Defensive Runs Saved or Outs Above Average. Some individual Orioles really excelled here. On Thursday afternoon, the Rawlings folks in charge of the Gold Gloves revealed what they call the “finalists” for this year’s awards. The O’s placed two players among that group: Ramón Urías at third base, and Cedric Mullins in center field.
For reasons unknown, Jorge Mateo was not chosen among the top three vote-getters at the shortstop position. (Though Rawlings calls them “finalists,” I find this to be a misnomer because there’s no further voting taking place. The voting is over.) Mateo led all AL shortstops in OAA and placed in second in DRS.
The shortstop award will instead be awarded to one of Houston’s Jeremy Peña, Minnesota’s Carlos Correa, and Boston’s Xander Bogaerts. There’s effectively no case to be made for either Correa or Bogaerts over Mateo. Peña vs. Mateo would be an interesting debate that Mateo would still win by objective standards.
Urías is in the top three at third base alongside of Toronto’s Matt Chapman and Cleveland’s José Ramírez. Chapman is a three-time Gold Glove winner, including the defending winner from last year. He will probably be headed for another win. Urías will be hampered by having only played about 750 innings at third, compared to Chapman’s almost 1,350. Though, much like with Mateo, Urías led all AL competition in both DRS and OAA at third base, even with his playing time being more limited at that position.
Along with Mullins, the top three in center field include Cleveland’s Myles Straw and Kansas City’s Michael A. Taylor. Straw and Taylor far outpace Mullins in DRS; Mullins is ahead of Taylor in OAA but behind Straw. Mullins is top three among AL center fielders in both of these metrics, so his inclusion is well-deserved, It seems like this one will end up going to Straw. The Orioles Gold Glove drought will likely continue another year.
You could easily make a case for Adley Rutschman to be recognized at catcher as well. I’m not as surprised that he didn’t, though, since he didn’t get to debut until mid-May. He’s in the same ballpark as two of the finalists by DRS, New York’s Jose Trevino and Seattle’s Cal Raleigh. A full season of Rutschman might have seen him win both Rookie of the Year and a Gold Glove.
Gold Gloves are voted upon by managers and coaches, with a restriction that they can’t vote for their own players. That accounts for 75% of the voting. Since 2013, there has also been a sabermetric component accounting for 25% of the results. It’s helped address some issues, though it’s not perfect - there’s still a basic bias in favor of players who are on good teams getting a shine for making good plays for good teams.
The Orioles improved enough this year that Urías, a quietly quality player, could slip in as a finalist. I think if the Orioles had once again lost 100 games, Urías would not have been a finalist. It’s even more weird that an improving O’s reputation wasn’t enough to get Mateo into the top three. Oh well. Sorry, Jorge. You’re a Gold Glover in our hearts.