O's Jones surprised, thrilled to win Gold Glove

24-year-old is first O's outfielder to receive defensive honor since Paul Blair in 1975

  • Orioles center fielder Adam Jones robs the Indians' Shin-Soo Choo of a ninth-inning home run on Aug. 29. Jones' Gold Glove was the first won by an Oriole since Mike Mussina in 1999.
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones robs the Indians' Shin-Soo… (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd…)
November 11, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

During his first season as an everyday major league center fielder, Adam Jones approached the Los Angeles Angels' Torii Hunter and told him one of his goals.

"I want one of your Gold Gloves," Jones said to Hunter before an Orioles-Angels game in 2008.

Jones got his wish Tuesday, though not at Hunter's expense. He became the first Oriole to win a Rawlings Gold Glove in 10 years when he was one of three American League outfielders awarded the annual prize for defensive excellence.

Jones, 24, is just the second Orioles outfielder to win the award, joining Paul Blair, who won his eighth and last in 1975.

"That's shocking," Jones said in a teleconference with reporters. "I knew Brady Anderson was a pretty good center fielder. I always felt that [ Nick] Markakis deserves one, getting to play with him every single day and seeing how truly good that guy is. It's crazy it's been since 1975. That's 34 years. I'm just thrilled and honored."

Jones is the 13th Oriole to win a Gold Glove and the first since pitcher Mike Mussina in 1999. The last Orioles position players to receive the honor were second baseman Roberto Alomar and first baseman Rafael Palmeiro in 1998.

The award is voted on by league managers and coaches before the conclusion of the regular season.

That Jones received a Gold Glove wasn't a huge revelation after the player's older brother broke the news on his MySpace page late last week. However, his inclusion remains surprising considering several factors, including the recent history of the voting and some defensive metrics that suggest Jones had an average to below-average year in center field.

Even Jones acknowledged that he was shocked to get the news in a phone call from president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.

"That was the most surprising thing ever," Jones said. "He told me I won. I said, 'You got to be kidding me. ' I was sitting there shocked. Once I got it through my skull that I won, I just froze."

The voting for Gold Glove awards has been criticized as a popularity contest, one in which the best players from the top teams often win. The Orioles felt that was the case last year when Markakis was snubbed despite leading the majors in outfield assists and playing solid - and often spectacular - defense in right field.

Hunter and the Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki have had a stranglehold on two of the three AL outfield positions; each won a ninth straight Gold Glove on Tuesday.

"A Gold Glove, that's one of the hardest things to get," said Jones, who credited first base and outfield coach John Shelby with helping him improve defensively. "Every year, Ichiro and Torii get one, and every year, they're deserving. Everybody wants to win a Gold Glove. I didn't have a vision that I was going to win it anytime soon, but it's just an honor to crack that mold. I'm happy, but I think I can get a lot better."

Jones unseated Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore, who had won two consecutive Gold Gloves. Jones won the award despite playing only 119 games in 2009 because of injuries, including a sprained left ankle that ended his season Sept. 1.

He committed five errors, and his ultimate zone rating (a formula that considers range, errors and arm strength) and fielding percentage were near the bottom for qualifying AL center fielders.

However, Jones made his share of highlight-reel catches, playing a shallow center field but relying on his speed and athleticism to run down balls. Jones, a shortstop coming up through the Mariners' system before moving to the outfield in 2005, also did it with flair, often blowing bubbles with his gum while making tough catches.

The centerpiece in the Orioles' five-player return from the Mariners for ace pitcher Erik Bedard in February 2008, Jones was first among everyday AL center fielders and second on the team with nine outfield assists, four behind Markakis.

"You look at where this guy has come from in one year and the amount of improvement that he's made, it speaks very highly for what we feel about him," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "The guy is an All-Star and a Gold Glover in his second full season, and his upside hasn't even been reached yet."

The Orioles have won 59 Gold Gloves all time, one shy of the New York Yankees for the most in the AL since the award was created in 1957. Two Yankees won 2009 Gold Gloves: first baseman Mark Teixeira (Mount St. Joseph) and shortstop Derek Jeter.

NOTE: The Orioles signed minor league free-agent catcher Michel Hernandez, who played in 35 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last season, batting .242 with a homer and 12 RBIs. Hernandez, 31, will be one of a handful of catchers the Orioles invite to spring training to back up Matt Wieters.

AL Gold Glove winners
(Includes player, position, team and number of Gold Gloves)

• Mark Buehrle, P, Chicago, 1

• Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota, 2

• Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York, 3

• Placido Polanco, 2B, Detroit, 2

• Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay, 1

• Derek Jeter, SS, New York, 4

Adam Jones, OF, Orioles, 1

• Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Seattle, 9

• Torii Hunter, OF, Los Angeles, 9

O's Gold Glove winners
(Includes years that they received the honor)

• Roberto Alomar, 2B: 1996, 1998

• Luis Aparicio, SS: 1964, 1966

• Mark Belanger, SS: 1969, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978

• Paul Blair, OF: 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975

• Bobby Grich, 2B: 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976

• Davey Johnson, 2B: 1969, 1970, 1971

• Adam Jones, OF: 2009

Eddie Murray, 1B: 1982, 1983, 1984

• Mike Mussina, P: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999

• Rafael Palmeiro, 1B: 1997, 1998

• Jim Palmer, P: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979

Cal Ripken Jr., SS: 1991, 1992

Brooks Robinson, 3B: 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975


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