The Orioles used to collect Gold Gloves the way my furniture collects dust. Winners every year between 1960-79. Eddie Murray creating a new streak on his own from 1982-84.
Pitching, defense, and the three-run homer. A box set.
The last streak ran from 2011-15, with third baseman Manny Machado the last Oriole to be honored.
Third baseman Ramón Urías and center fielder Cedric Mullins are finalists this year. Neither one is a favorite, but at least they earned the recognition.
Mullins is expected to lead off again and play center field on opening day, but Urías’ role is a mystery.
Did he ever have one?
Urías was the second baseman on opening day because the Rays started left-hander Shane McClanahan. He moved to third base the following day against right-hander Drew Rasmussen and stayed there against right-hander Corey Kluber.
Oblique and knee injuries kept Urías off the field, but he totaled a career-high 118 games in semi-regular duty. Eighty-four starts at third base, 19 at second and four at shortstop. Sort of utility except he played a lot.
It’s complicated. And it could be harder to duplicate in 2023.
Gunnar Henderson, baseball’s No. 1 prospect, made his major league debut on Aug. 31. He started 18 games at third base. It’s probably his position if Jorge Mateo sticks at shortstop, the speedster’s exceptional defense ignored in Gold Glove voting.
The Orioles’ infield is a riddle beyond first baseman Ryan Mountcastle.
Odor is a free agent and unlikely to be re-signed. Mateo only played shortstop this year but made 18 appearances at second in 2021, and the shift ban increases the appeal and importance of his range. Prospects Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz and Connor Norby finished the summer at Triple-A Norfolk, though the latter appeared in only nine games.
We know that Westburg is expected in major league camp, and he was named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year. What happens if he makes the club? Ortiz has been viewed as glove-ready at shortstop for a few years, with the bat catching up this season.
Terrin Vavra’s ability to play the middle infield and outfield could make him a utility candidate if he doesn’t emerge as the regular second baseman.
Urías has a slight edge in versatility, but he’s deserving of a starting job in the infield, with his power – especially to right-center field - an unexpected bonus to manager Brandon Hyde.
Urías had 17 doubles and 16 home runs in 445 plate appearances. He ranked third on the club with a 3.6 WAR per Baseball-Reference.com. He has Hyde in his corner. And now he’s a Gold Glove finalist.
Durability has been an issue, but Urías looks like a keeper.
How and where need to be resolved.