Buck Showalter had a warning for would-be Orioles. Things have changed. The Orioles are putting a premium on defense.
“If you can’t defend, you’re going to have a tough time playing for the Baltimore Orioles,” Showalter said Tuesday night.
The occasion was to celebrate J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters winning Gold Gloves.
Showalter pointed out that Manny Machado, Mark Reynolds and Nick Markakis are fine defenders, too. Markakis would have won his second consecutive Gold Glove had he not missed a third of the season with injuries.
The Orioles have won 64 Gold Gloves, the second most in the American League since the award started in 1957.
Fully a quarter of the awards were won by Brooks Robinson, who received one each year from 1960-75.
Robinson is one of 16 Orioles who’ve won them. The 1970s were a great time for Oriole defenders. Mark Belanger won seven at shortstop, Paul Blair six in the outfield, Bobby Grich four awards at second and Jim Palmer four more.
There’s a great tradition of Orioles defense, Showalter pointed out.
“"Everybody talks about the three-run homer and the great pitching that the Orioles had," Showalter said. “Offense might get you to the big leagues, but defense keeps you there."
Hardy is aware of the great play of Belanger and Ripken.
"When they talk to me about these guys and compare them to me, it's an honor to even be mentioned in the same sentence as those guys," Hardy said.
Jones, who won his second Gold Glove, has studied franchise history.
“It's a blessing to be in the conversation with such a historic franchise and all the guys who wore the Orioles jersey and played unbelievable defense," Jones said. "I'm not even close to my man Paul Blair. That man went out there and did it. He went out there and handled his business.”
Even though Wieters is the first Orioles catcher to win the award, he made sure he’s aware of the history as well.
"We all know that one of the greatest defenders of all time, Brooksie was an Oriole his entire career," Wieters said. "He set the standard for how you should play defense in an Orioles uniform."
Showalter, his managing colleagues and coaches vote on these awards.
"Once you win one of these things, all of a sudden people are aware of how good you are and how hard you worked at being good," Showalter said.