The surprised reactions this week to Ramón Urías winning a Gold Glove at third base weren’t shared by the Orioles infielder.
Urías knew the numbers. He understood that his chances were good. He didn’t concede the honor to Toronto’s Matt Chapman or Cleveland’s José Ramírez.
Let the others express their doubts and skepticism.
The 14 Defensive Runs Saved, 10.9 Ultimate Zone Rating and 11.1 SABR Defensive Index computed for Urías led all American League third basemen. He was armed with solid arguments.
“I knew that I had a shot to win at Gold Glove this year, especially because of the metrics,” Urías said today on a video call with media.
“I found out like two days ago when they announced it that I was a winner. It feels super cool. It’s so important for me, my family and my career to get this award. It feels so cool.”
Urías made 10 starts at third base in 2021, 74 fewer than this summer. He was primarily a shortstop and second baseman during his first full season with the Orioles. Perhaps he would have shined sooner if given the opportunity at the corner.
“Obviously, like everybody knows, I didn’t have much playing time at third base in the last couple years, but I just felt so comfortable at third base,” he said.
“I think it helped me a lot to play on the left side of the infield last year, at shortstop. I don’t know. What can I tell you? It just happened.”
Urías is the first Oriole to win a Gold Glove since third baseman Manny Machado in 2015, but he doesn’t know whether he’s starting at the position on opening day 2023. He didn’t this year, when it appeared that he’d settle more into a utility role.
Gunnar Henderson headed into the offseason as the perceived favorite, especially if Jorge Mateo remained the shortstop.
“My belief is that obviously this is the best performance that I’ve had in the infield, but my playing time with the Orioles, I’ve always been moving around the infield,” Urías said. “I’ll be ready for anything, you know?”
Nothing that happens can remove Urías' name from a select group of Orioles third basemen to win the award - Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson 16 times and Machado twice. That’s it.
“I’m far from doing what they have done in their careers,” Urías said, “but it would be fun to say that maybe in a couple years after.”
Manager Brandon Hyde often praised Urías for his work at third base, but also for the production that came with a bat in his hands.
Urías had 17 doubles, a triple, 16 home runs and 51 RBIs in 445 plate appearances, and his 3.6 WAR ranked third on the club. The 16 homers were tied for third.
Being part of a winning team for the first time enhanced Urías delight in coming to the ballpark each day. He wasn’t just trying to impress statistically and solidify his standing in the organization. He wanted to aid in the playoff push.
“It was satisfying,” Urías said. “It was more enjoyable to play with the Orioles this year than the last couple years. First of all, I think everybody got better, everybody had some improvement in his play. And for me, I think I still can do better. I’m looking to do better every year. Let’s see if I can have a better season next year.”
Urías twice went on the injured list this season, limiting him to 118 games. A sore left oblique cost him 22 games from June 10-July 4, and he was shut down early with a sprained knee, keeping him out of the lineup for the last eight.
“It’s good,” he said. “The pain is almost gone. I’m pretty sure that I’m like two weeks away from being 100 percent and starting with my offseason program.”