2019 Fielding Bible Awards Preview Part I

October 17, 2019
For the next two weeks, this space will feature a two-part series on the top candidates for The Fielding Bible Awards, which will be announced later this month or in early November.
 

The Fielding Bible Awards are voted on by a panel of 12 experts who can vote based on whatever criteria they choose, including observation and subjective judgement, as well as statistical analysis. Each position has one winner, different from the Gold Gloves, which award one winner in each league.

This week, Part I of our preview looks at catchers and infielders.

(Defensive Runs Saved totals in parentheses)

Catcher

Fielding Bible Favorites: Roberto Pérez (29), Austin Hedges (22)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Hedges

AL Gold Glove Favorite: Pérez

Other Top Contenders: (NL) Buster Posey (14) (AL) Danny Jansen (12)

 

Roberto Pérez excelled behind the plate in his first season as a full-time catcher for the Indians, ranking among the leaders in both pitch framing and pitch blocking. He’s the clear favorite because of his all-around excellence.

Austin Hedges, the Padres primary catcher, was the game’s best pitch-framer by a considerable margin. That was enough to make him a contender for the top honor and the leading candidate for NL Gold Glove ahead of a veteran, Giants catcher Buster Posey. One stat that goes beyond Runs Saved for Hedges: The Padres were 47-46 when he started at catcher, 23-46 when he didn’t.

First Baseman

Fielding Bible Favorites: Matt Olson (13), Christian Walker (9)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Joey Votto (7)

AL Gold Glove Favorite: Olson

Other Top Contenders: (NL) Freddie Freeman (5), Brandon Belt (4), Paul Goldschmidt (4) (AL) C.J. Cron (3)

Matt Olson has a pretty good advantage over the rest of the field in search of his second straight Fielding Bible Award. He does everything you would want a first baseman to do, and keep in mind that he’s extra valuable to his teammates in his home ballpark because the vast foul territory turns throwing errors into multi-base miscues.

The NL Gold Glove race will be tight, with Walker, who fared well for the Diamondbacks, trying to chip away votes from four veterans with long-standing reputations for being very good in Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman, Brandon Belt, and Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt, whom Walker replaced, has won the award three times (he's also won three Fielding Bible Awards).

Second Baseman

Fielding Bible Favorites: Kolten Wong (14), Yolmer Sánchez (11)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Wong

AL Gold Glove Favorite: Sánchez

Other Top Contenders (NL) Ozzie Albies (8) (AL) Whit Merrifield (7)

Wong won a Fielding Bible Award last year and had a strong season. He didn’t win a Gold Glove but should have a better shot this season with last year’s winner, DJ LeMahieu, gone to the American League and Javier Báez moved to shortstop.

Yolmer Sanchez of the White Sox moved back to second base in 2019 after a year as a full-time third baseman and that paid dividends. He had above-average range ratings both on balls hit in the hole and up the middle. Whit Merrifield of the Royals has the best shot among other second basemen, though he only played the position part-time this season.

Shortstop

Fielding Bible Favorites: Nick Ahmed (18), Trevor Story (17)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Ahmed

AL Gold Glove Favorite: Andrelton Simmons (14)

Other Top Contenders: (NL) Javier Báez (15) (AL) Willy Adames (13), Francisco Lindor (9)

 

Shortstop may be the most interesting of the Fielding Bible Awards slots because of how strong the candidate pool is. Nick Ahmed, Trevor Story and Javier Báez all had good enough seasons to take the honor. You also can’t count out Andrelton Simmons, who has won the award the last six years and put up excellent numbers despite playing in only 102 games at shortstop due to an ankle injury. Between Simmons’ wizardry, Ahmed’s great arm, Story’s all-around game, and Báez's penchant for amazing plays, none of those players would be a bad choice here.

Third Baseman

Fielding Bible Favorites: Matt Chapman (18), Josh Donaldson (15), Nolan Arenado (8)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Arenado

AL Gold Glove Favorite: Chapman

Other Top Contenders: (NL) Evan Longoria (7) (AL) Alex Bregman (7)

Statistically speaking, Chapman is the gold standard among third basemen, though some will still say that Arenado is right there with him. Chapman makes plays that no one else can, particularly along the third base line, which is how he racks up Runs Saved and praise from his peers.

Arenado is the favorite for NL Gold Glove over Donaldson even though he finished with seven fewer Runs Saved. That’s based on Arenado’s reputation, as he’s previously netted six Gold Gloves and three Fielding Bible Awards. Donaldson was outstanding for the Braves this season, posting his highest DRS total since he had 20 in 2014. He’ll be a formidable foe for both Chapman and Arenado at the hot corner.

 

 

For more baseball content, check out the Sports Info Solutions Blog or the SIS Baseball Podcast.

 
 

COMMENTS (1 Comment)

shthar
How'd the rookies do?
2:52 PM Oct 17th
 
 
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