BALTIMORE -- As baseball's Hot Stove season begins to heat up with trade rumors and offseason rumblings, there's still plenty of time to relish 2011, with accolades from last season continuing to trickle in for the Orioles, who have taken home an admirable amount of hardware.
Despite a last-place finish in the American League East, the Orioles did have some strong individual performances, and arguably no one had a more impressive season than catcher Matt Wieters, who was named MLB.com's Player of the Year and Breakout Player of the Year for Baltimore. Reliever Jim Johnson took home Pitcher of the Year honors, and both Johnson and Wieters received votes in the Most Valuable Oriole race, voted on by local members of the media, an award which ultimately went to center fielder Adam Jones.
Wieters, who was a first-time All-Star this season, and right fielder Nick Markakis both received a Rawlings Gold Glove Award for the first time Tuesday. The Gold Gloves honor the best individual fielding performances at each position in the National and American Leagues -- as voted by Major League managers and coaches.
"Just to be considered in the same class as the top three or four defenders at your position is pretty special," said Wieters, who beat out Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski and Detroit's Alex Avila and ended the 2011 season tied for the lead among AL catchers with a .995 fielding percentage.
The 25-year-old Wieters committed five errors, allowed one passed ball and threw out 37 percent of would-be basestealers to become the first catcher in Orioles history to win a Gold Glove Award.
Markakis had an equally impressive season in the field, and he earned an award that many around baseball have long thought to be well overdue. The owner of a career .992 fielding percentage, which ranks him first among active AL right fielders, Markakis finished the 2011 season with a perfect fielding percentage -- the first in franchise history for a player with more than 150 games played -- in 325 chances.
Markakis led the Orioles in games played for the fifth consecutive season and was joined by New York's Robinson Cano as the only players in the AL to appear in 155 or more games in each of the past five seasons. Since making his big league debut in 2006, Markakis' 72 outfield assists rank second in the Majors, behind only Jeff Francoeur's 84.
Asked if the honor was the highlight of his career so far, Markakis said the only other comparable feeling was playing as a rookie.
"[Winning a Gold Glove is] something I'll always remember, because you work hard and you go out there and give it 100 percent every day," said Markakis, who started a team-leading 160 games (including 157 in right field) and gutted out the final few weeks of the season despite a bone bruise in his lower abdomen.
Widely regarded as one of the game's best outfielders, Markakis' Gold Glove drought was thought to exist in part because of the way the previous years' balloting lumped together the outfielders in one category -- which led to center fielders dominating the honors. Balloting this season was divided by outfield position, which helped Markakis edge Francoeur and perennial winner Torii Hunter of the Angels.
And awards season isn't over just yet. The Orioles also have three players nominated for the annual Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Awards. Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who missed out on a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger, is up for the "Comeback of the Year" in recognition of a season that saw him set a career high in home runs (30) after hitting just six in 2010. Designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero is nominated for a special career achievement in a season he became the all-time hits leader for Dominican-born players, while Jones is also up for a "Defensive Player of the Year" GIBBY.
Individual honors will go to the top everyday player, starting pitcher, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout player, comeback player, defensive player, wow factor, manager, executive and postseason performer. GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's best play, moment, performance, oddity, walk-off, fan moment and postseason moment from MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
Fan voting on MLB.com ends Dec. 4, and you can vote up to 25 times per category. Winners will be announced Dec. 16 from 9-11 p.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.com.