Baltimore Orioles 2022 season recap: Part 3 – Pitching & Defense

Ramón Urías’ Gold Glove win Tuesday, together with Jorge Mateo’s selection for the Fielding Bible Award last week, illustrates the stark contrast of the Orioles’ defense during the 2022 season with last year’s loosely defined version of it.

The Fielding Bible Award, chosen by Baseball Info Solutions, began in 2006, and Mateo is the first Orioles shortstop to win it.

As reported by, Baseball Info Solutions had this to say about Mateo:

Jorge Mateo was instrumental to the Orioles’ resurgence, finishing a close third among shortstops with 14 Defensive Runs Saved and tied for second in Good Fielding Plays with 28. He led all shortstops by converting 72 percent of his double play opportunities.”

– Baseball Info Solutions

Just to note, 75% of the Gold Glove vote is by managers and coaches, and Platinum Glove voting will be held on November 9. So, Mateo still has a shot.

A solid, everyday shortstop improves a team’s entire defense and can make a world of difference in team ERA and the confidence of the pitching staff, as is well known.

So it was with the Orioles’ rotation, which pitched to an ERA nearly two runs a game lower than in the nightmare-ish 2021 season.

In the case of Urías, his 14 defensive runs saved led all AL third basemen and ranked third in the majors, and they were the most by an Orioles player at the position since Manny Machado in 2015. His 10.9 ultimate zone rating also led AL third basemen.

No Oriole had won a Gold Glove since Machado in 2015. Urías, Machado and Brooks Robinson are the only Orioles third basemen to be so honored.

It would be an oddity to win a Gold Glove and then either be replaced by rookie Gunnar Henderson at third base or become a trade chip. The award means a lot of competition for infield spots during spring training next year.

Does Urías move Henderson to shortstop, replacing Mateo, who himself becomes a trade chip? Urías has also played second base well, but Jordan Westburg is the heir apparent to that job. Just a few storylines when the team reports to Sarasota.

Eighteen Orioles have received Gold Gloves, with Urías the only one lacking multiple awards. Robinson is tied with pitcher Jim Kaat for second place all-time with 16.

A lot of this wouldn’t have been possible without Ryan Mountcastle scooping bad throws, but that was the case in the era of Brooks and Boog Powell, as well. Long throws from the hole at shortstop need help sometimes, and Mountcastle improved at that art as the year went on.

It’s hard to say which pitcher stood tallest among the beneficiaries of the glovework, but the importance of Jorge López’s 16 saves until his trade to Minnesota can’t be overstated. His transformative season after a career full of high ERAs led to his being worth four of Minnesota’s pitchers in return.

The man who was promoted to closer upon López’s departure, Félix Bautista, showed equally remarkable results, coupled with the presence of long-heralded catcher Adley Rutschman from his May 21 call-up through the rest of the season.

If ever one player made a singular difference to a team, but especially to a pitching staff, it was Rutschman.

In one-run or extra-inning games, the team went 25-26, including 8-5 in extra-inning affairs. Against the AL East, they were 34-42, under .500 but still a dramatic improvement over 2021.

The team fielding percentage was .985, ranking sixth in the league, according to

Baltimore turned 151 double plays, although no ranking within the league is given for that. Their 91 errors were 10th in the league. Mateo made 17, perhaps part of the reason he was denied a Gold Glove, and Rougned Odor made 16.

Their record after Rutschman’s May 21 arrival was 66-53. In games he played, the O’s were 62-49, and the staff ERA was 3.77 when he caught. That’s the definition of a No. 1 pick playing up to the hype.

For the season, the team ERA was 3.97, ninth in the league. A big improvement from years prior.

Rutschman was rewarded by being named Most Valuable Oriole, while skipper Brandon Hyde was named The Sporting News Manager of the Year.

Who stood out to you on the O’s pitching staff, and which defender stood out to you the most this past season? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!

Like Steve’s content? Follow him on Twitter – @stvkatz

Published by Steve Katz

I started following the Orioles the year of the Frank Robinson trade, and I'm just as intense now as ever, in spite of the circumstances of the last few years. UMCP graduate, former reporter, editor and blogger.

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