2018 Fielding Bible Awards

October 29, 2018
 The 2018 Fielding Bible Awards have officially been announced, with 10 winners being recognized for defensive excellence during the regular season. That includes one winner at each position, as well as a multi-position honoree.

Half of the winners are first-timers, including three infielders—Matt Olson(Athletics, 1B), Kolten Wong (Cardinals, 2B), Matt Chapman (Athletics, 3B) — along with Jeff Mathis (Diamondbacks, C) and Zack Greinke (Diamondbacks, P).

The others are repeat choices—Andrelton Simmons (Angels, SS), Alex Gordon(Royals, LF), Lorenzo Cain (Brewers, CF), Mookie Betts (Red Sox, RF) and Javier Baez (Cubs, Multi-Position). Simmons’ six awards (won consecutively) match the most of any player since the award began in 2006 (Yadier Molina also has six). Gordon has won four times, with this being his first since 2014. Cain previously won once, as the Multi-Position honoree in 2014. Betts and Baez have each won three times, also consecutively.

Betts was the only unanimous winner, receiving all 12 first-place votes from our panel. He led all right fielders with 20 Defensive Runs Saved, six more than the next-closest player at the position (Aaron Judge).

Chapman, Simmons, and Greinke each received 11 of 12 possible first-place votes. Chapman was the MLB leader with 29 Defensive Runs Saved. No one else had more than 21. Simmons was one of those with 21, tied with Nick Ahmed of the Diamondbacks for the shortstop lead. Greinke was one of three pitchers to lead the majors with seven Runs Saved.

The closest vote came at catcher, where seven different players received a first-place vote. Mathis received five first-place votes and edged out Mike Zunino of the Mariners by four points.

Mathis is an interesting selection in that he ranked 37th in innings caught, but easily paced the field with 17 Defensive Runs Saved. He led the majors in block rate on potential wild pitches and was among the best pitch-framers in the game.

The other highly-competitive race was at second base, where Wong won by five points over DJ Lemahieu of the Rockies. Wong received six first-place votes to LeMahieu’s four, eking out a margin similar to their race for the Defensive Runs Saved lead, which Wong won, 19-18.

Other voting notes:

 

  • Cain became the 12th different player to win the award in center field. The only player to win two there is Carlos Beltran. Additionally, center field is the only position at which a player has not won two in a row.

 

  • Olson is the first AL first baseman to win the award since Mark Teixeira of the Yankees in 2012. He dethroned Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks, who had won three of the previous five.

 

  • Gordon’s four are the most won in left field, one more than Brett Gardner of the Yankees, who won last season, and Carl Crawford, who won three at the position for the Rays.

 

  • Betts, Jason Heyward, and Ichiro Suzuki share the mark for the most wins in right field with three each.

A panel of 12 experts, listed below, examined the 2018 seasons of every defensive player in Major League Baseball and ranked the 10 best players at each position on a scale from 1 to 10. First place votes received 10 points, second place 9 points, third place 8 points, etc. A perfect score is 120.

One important distinction that differentiates The Fielding Bible Awards from most other baseball awards, such as the Gold Gloves, is that there is only one winner at each position instead of separate winners for each league. The goal ofThe Fielding Bible Awards is to stand up and say: "Here is the best fielder at this position in Major League Baseball last season." Another key feature of the system is that it also recognizes the runners-up for each position.

A complete record of the voting can be found in The 2019 Bill James Handbook.

Here are the results of The 2018 Fielding Bible Awards voting:

 
Position Winner Points
First Base Matt Olson 108
Second Base Kolten Wong 111
Third Base Matt Chapman 119
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons 119
Left Field Alex Gordon 117
Center Field Lorenzo Cain 114
Right Field Mookie Betts 120
Catcher Jeff Mathis 81
Pitcher Zack Greinke 118
Multi-Position Javier Baez 98

The panel:

Ben Lindbergh, staff writer, The Ringer; podcast host, Effectively Wild

Bill James, longtime baseball writer and analyst; Senior Baseball Operations Advisor for the Boston Red Sox

BIS Video Scouts at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS)

Chris Singleton, broadcaster, ESPN Radio, Baseball Tonight

Hal Richman, creator, Strat-O-Matic baseball game

Joe Posnanski, Award-winning columnist; co-founder, Passions in America

John Dewan, CEO Baseball Info Solutions; founder of Stats Inc.

Mark Simon, Senior Research Analyst, Baseball Info Solutions

Peter Gammons, On-air and online analyst for MLB Network, MLB.com and NESN; winner J.G. Taylor Spink Award for outstanding baseball writing

Rob Neyer, longtime baseball writer and researcher

Travis Sawchik, sportswriter for FiveThirtyEight; former Pirates beat writer

Vince Gennaro, president, SABR; consultant to MLB teams

Our three tie-breakers are Dan Casey, veteran Video Scout and Senior Operations Analyst at BIS, Chris Dial, who has served on the SABR Board of Directors since 2014 and developed Runs Effectively Defended (RED) in 1997, and Jeff Sullivan, Senior Editor at FanGraphs and BBWAA member.

 

Please visit FieldingBibleAwards.com for more information on the 2018 voting.

 
 

COMMENTS (7 Comments, most recent shown first)

LesLein
Strat-O-Matic may be the first place to emphasize walks in hitting statistics.
7:45 PM Oct 30th
 
nettles9
In 2011, I had the great honor of meeting Hal Richman at the 50th Strat-O-Matic Anniversary in NYC. I shook his hand and told him how much Strat meant to me in my life. He was nothing but nice, patient and humble. Still a great game and company, Strat-O-Matic. My favorite dice roll is 3-8, which is on the basic side of Graig Nettles’ 1980 season Strat card. Thanks again, Hal.
12:13 PM Oct 30th
 
wovenstrap
The link to the FBA website is in error.
10:25 AM Oct 30th
 
wovenstrap
It never occurred to me that Strat-O-Matic would have been invented by a very young man, as seems obvious once you learn it. I hope Mr. Richman is in fine fettle.
10:24 AM Oct 30th
 
3for3
I love that Hal Richman is on the panel..
3:01 AM Oct 30th
 
pkkennedy
The mother of all panels.
12:10 AM Oct 30th
 
MarisFan61
Love the results, love the mix of the panel!
1:23 PM Oct 29th
 
 
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