O's in running for postseason awards
Along with Markakis, Jones up for top defensive honor
The 2009 season didn't bring the Orioles the award they've been looking for since they last stood atop the baseball world in 1983. But though a World Series title eluded Baltimore's grasp, the past campaign might have garnered its players some hardware.
Perhaps a Gold Glove or two, and maybe even a Rookie of the Year Award.
Offseason awards will be announced starting this week, and Tuesday could bring the Orioles their first Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner since Mike Mussina in 1999.
And possibly even two.
There's a good chance young, dynamic center fielder Adam Jones could take home his first Gold Glove this season. Also, Jones' partner to his left, right fielder Nick Markakis, has a chance to snare one, as well.
Together, Markakis and Jones combined to nail 22 baserunners from the outfield.
Jones ranked second in the American League in assists by a center fielder with nine -- one behind the Royals' Mitch Maier, who only played in 85 games -- and had a .986 fielding percentage that ranked seventh among center fielders who qualified. Jones' zone rating (7.837) was ninth.
There is no stat for highlight-reel catches, but Jones -- who missed the last month because of a left ankle sprain -- definitely had his share, including a grand slam he robbed Aug. 16.
The 24-year-old Jones batted .277 with 19 home runs and 70 RBIs in 119 games this year while being named to his first All-Star team in July. If he were to capture the Gold Glove, he'd be the first O's outfielder to win it since Paul Blair -- an eight-time winner -- in 1975, and the first position player since Roberto Alomar and Rafael Palmeiro each won it in '98.
"From Day 1, he clearly has grown as a player," O's president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said upon Jones being named to the Midsummer Classic in St. Louis.
Markakis led AL right fielders with 13 assists, while also sporting a .981 fielding percentage that was sixth best in the league at his position, and a zone rating of 12.508 that ranked third.
The 25-year-old Markakis also contributed with the bat, hitting .293 with 18 home runs and 101 RBIs in 161 games. In late September, he was voted the Orioles' Most Valuable Player in an informal, but comprehensive poll of the clubhouse.
"I think consistency is a big factor, and Nick's someone you can count on to be out there every single day," second baseman Brian Roberts said about choosing Markakis as his MVP.
Markakis and Roberts -- .283 batting average, 16 home runs, 79 RBIs and 30 stolen bases -- each put up very solid years offensively. But the Orioles aren't likely to end up with any Silver Sluggers this year.
In right field, the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki batted .352 with 26 stolen bases. And Bobby Abreu (.293 batting average, 103 RBIs and 30 steals), Michael Cuddyer (32 home runs and 94 RBIs), Nelson Cruz (33 homers) and Shin-Soo Choo (.300 batting average and 20 homers) each enjoyed strong years at the plate.
At second base, Roberts would likely be prevented his first Silver Slugger because of players like Robinson Cano (.300 batting average and 25 home runs), Aaron Hill (.286 batting average, 36 homers and 108 RBIs) and Ben Zobrist (.297 average, 27 homers and 91 RBIs).
But the Orioles' biggest hope for a bright future comes from their core of young players, and a few of them could steal some votes for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
Though shortstop Elvis Andrus (Rangers), closer Andrew Bailey (Athletics), and starters Rick Porcello (Tigers) and Jeff Niemann (Rays) are the likely favorites, catcher Matt Wieters, outfielder Nolan Reimold and right-hander Brad Bergesen definitely deserve some consideration.
Wieters was called up from the Minor Leagues in late May and batted .288 -- tops among AL rookies with at least 200 at-bats -- with nine homers and 43 RBIs in 96 games; the 26-year-old Reimold led AL rookies with 15 home runs while adding 45 RBIs and a .279 batting average; and despite missing the last two months, Bergesen made 19 starts and went 7-5 with a 3.43 ERA -- the lowest mark among AL rookie starters.
Based on how Bergesen was pitching, the 24-year-old could've been deemed one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year had he not missed all of August and September because of a leg injury.
"There are more and more Orioles being developed and coming up through the system," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said at the conclusion of the regular season. "And they're coming up through the system together."
This week, the AL Gold Glove winners will be announced Tuesday, followed by the National League version Wednesday and the Silver Sluggers on Thursday. Next Monday, the AL and NL Rookie of the Year will be named, followed by the AL Cy Young on Tuesday, the AL and NL Manager of the Year on Wednesday and the NL Cy Young on Thursday.
The AL MVP will be announced on Nov. 23, followed by the NL MVP on Nov. 24.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.