SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielder Adam Jones are two of just four players last season to win both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award. The others are Yadier Molina and Paul Goldschmidt.
That is a nice double of defense and power, two elements that can help any team win.
Hardy leads all major league shortstops with 77 homers and 224 RBIs since joining the Orioles in 2011. So is he more proud of his bat or his glove?
“That’s a tough question. Both,” he said. “Trying to be a complete player for one. Defense is something I take a lot of pride in only because defense got me to the big leagues. In ‘05 I wasn’t much of a hitter, but they said if you can catch the ball and throw the ball, you’ll play for us in the big leagues.
“That’s what I did, and then I started to develop a little bit more, got a little bit stronger. I always take a lot of pride in defense, but it’s about the same when it comes to offense, too.”
Some defenders gain attention because they are flashy on the field. Hardy is the opposite of that.
“For me, I’ve never been flashy,” he said. “I feel like if I make an error trying to be flashy, I’m about as embarrassed as I can possibly be. I’m more of a, just try and make sure to catch the ball and make a good throw. I do not care about being flashy one bit.”
He can cut loose a strong throw when he wants, but he also knows you don’t always have to gun the ball to first base. He just needs to make a solid throw that gets the out.
“Buck calls that a stopwatch in your head,” Hardy said. “I was once a guy that felt like I had to attack the ball and throw, and I’d get the runner out by 20 steps or whatever. It got to the point where I just tried to slow myself down as best I could and realize if you catch the ball clean and make a good throw to first base, not many people can beat it. There are a few people in the game now that can really get down the baseline, and in that situation I don’t play as deep, so I feel like I don’t have to rush myself there, either.”
After the 2013 season, Hardy won his second career Gold Glove, becoming the third shortstop in O’s history to win the award in consecutive years, joining Cal Ripken, Jr. (1991-92) and Mark Belanger (six straight, 1973-78).
Hardy doesn’t show much emotion on the field, but if he muffs a play he’s mad on the inside.
“I have to remind myself that it’s part of the game because it bother me,” he said. “I still get really upset. I think it’s a pride thing. I don’t think I’ll ever be OK with making an error.
“A lot of times, it’s just a mental thing where you just kind of lost focus for a little bit and you should not have made that error. Sometimes there’s a bullet hit at you or it just takes a bad hop, but most errors are just a lack of focus, I think. I’ll never be OK with it. It will always tick me off.”