Wieters & Markakis win Gold Gloves
The Orioles took home some hardware from Tuesday night’s Rawlings Gold Glove Award show, with catcher Matt Wieters and right fielder Nick Markakis both taking home the honor for the first time in their respective careers.
The Gold Gloves honor the best individual fielding performances at each position in the National and American Leagues — as voted by Major League managers and coaches — and were announced in an hour-long telecast that started around 11 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.
The 25-year-old Wieters was an anchor for the Orioles young pitching staff and –along with fellow nominees Chicago’s A.J. Pierzynski and Detroit’s Alex Avila – ended the 2011 season with an AL-best.995 fielding percentage. Selected to his first career All-Star game, Wieters committed five errors, one passed ball and amassed a .370 percentage throwing out baserunners trying to steal.
A workhorse who also had a strong year offensively, Wieters started 129 games for the Orioles, appearing in 132 total, as he continued to solidify a presence behind the plate that made opposing teams think twice. Manager Buck Showalter, who once said Wieters did something every game that impressed him, has praised the young backstop’s devotion to the game and ability to do the little thing, such as catch foul balls and block the plate. He is the first catcher in Orioles’ history to take home a Gold Glove.
Markakis had an equally impressive season in the field, and takes home an award that many around baseball –including Showalter – have long thought to be well overdue. A career .992 fielding percentage –which ranks him first among active AL right fielders – Markakis finished the 2011 season with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 325 chances. The 27-year-old Markakis had 14 assists, including three double plays, in 157 games in right field. He also appeared in three games as a first baseman and one at designated hitter.
Widely regarded as one of the game’s best outfielders, Markakis’ Gold Glove drought was thought to be, in part because of the way the previous balloting lumped together the outfielders in one category, which led to predominantly a group of centerfielders taking home the honors. The separate balloting for each outfield spot in 2011 helped Markakis take home his first Gold Glove over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s perennial winner Torii Hunter and Kansas City Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur.