2019 Fielding Bible Awards Preview Part II

October 25, 2019
This is Part II of our two-part series on the top candidates for The Fielding Bible Awards, which will be announced in early November. Part I of the series ran last week.
 
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 preview looks at outfielders, pitchers and multi-position players.

(Defensive Runs Saved total in parentheses)

Left Fielders

Fielding Bible Favorites: Michael Brantley (10), David Peralta (10), Mike Tauchman (10)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Peralta

AL Gold Glove Favorite: Alex Gordon (1)

Other Top Contenders: (NL) Juan Soto (1) (AL) Robbie Grossman (4)

David Peralta might have had the solo lead in Defensive Runs Saved among left fielders had he not suffered a shoulder injury in late August. He looked good tracking down fly balls hit to the deepest part of left field at spacious Chase Field.

Voting on these awards concluded before the postseason began, but you’ve seen good examples of why Michael Brantley is a top contender for a Fielding Bible Award during this postseason. He fared very well on balls hit to the shallowest part of the outfield. Mike Tauchman emerged from obscurity to be a defensive standout in limited time for the Yankees prior to getting hurt.

Both the Fielding Bible Award and Gold Glove have been Alex Gordon’s to lose in years past, but his numbers took a hit in 2019. His DRS total in left field was a career low.

Note that via an odd quirk, Hunter Renfroe qualified for a Gold Glove Award in left field, but a Fielding Bible Award in right field, and is thus not listed for left field.

Gold Gloves are based on which position you've played most at the time of your team's 142nd game. Fielding Bible is based on which position you've played the most all season.

Center Fielders

Fielding Bible Favorites: Victor Robles (22), Lorenzo Cain (20)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Cain

AL Gold Glove Favorite: Kevin Kiermaier (13)

Other Top Contenders: (NL) Harrison Bader (13) (AL) Byron Buxton* (10), Delino DeShields (6)

* Eligible only for Fielding Bible Award

Statistically speaking, this is a two-horse race, pitting an impressive rookie in Victor Robles against a veteran standout in Lorenzo Cain. Robles made a late charge to pass Cain for the DRS lead.

His success was partly the product of an arm that recorded a dozen assists without a cutoff man and totaled nine Outfield Arm Runs Saved in center field. Cain had five home run robberies, matching the most in a season since Sports Info Solutions began tracking them in 2004.

It looked like there would be a great battle for the AL Gold Glove between Kevin Kiermaier and Byron Buxton, but Buxton’s shoulder injury left him shy of the innings required to qualify for a Gold Glove. Thus, the award looks like it’s Kiermaier’s to lose.

Right Fielders

Fielding Bible Favorites: Cody Bellinger (19), Aaron Judge* (19), Mookie Betts (15)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Bellinger

AL Gold Glove Favorite: Betts

Other Top Contenders: (NL) Hunter Renfroe (13), Bryce Harper (9) (AL) Josh Reddick (9)

* Eligible only for Fielding Bible Award

Though Aaron Judge failed to meet the innings requirement for Gold Glove consideration, he’s a viable candidate for a Fielding Bible Award. It will likely be him and Cody Bellinger for the top spot, preventing Mookie Betts from a four-peat. Both Judge and Bellinger had strong seasons with their glove and their arm (as did Betts, who comes up four runs shy of their Runs Saved totals).

Bryce Harper is a legit contender, and though he probably won’t win, he deserves acknowledgement for improvement. He went from costing the Nationals 16 runs in right field in 2018 to saving the Phillies nine there in his first season with them.

Pitcher

Fielding Bible Favorites: Max Fried (6), Dallas Keuchel* (5), Aaron Nola (5), Zack Greinke (4), Clayton Kershaw (4)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Fried

AL Gold Glove Favorite: Lucas Giolito (3)

Other Top Contenders: (NL) Hyun-Jin Ryu (5), Mike Soroka (5) (AL) Justin Verlander (2)

 

* Eligible only for Fielding Bible Award

 

Dallas Keuchel has won four of the last five Fielding Bible Awards and is a legit contender for this one too, despite not signing until early June. He’ll be trying to fend off two teammates that are worthy candidates in Max Fried and Mike Soroka. Fried led pitchers in Runs Saved because he had the best combination of range, basestealing deterrence and bunt defense.

Don’t count out last year’s winner, Zack Greinke, who led all pitchers in putouts and tied for the lead in assists with Fried. Note that Keuchel is not eligible for a Gold Glove because he did not meet the innings requirement.

Multi-Position

Fielding Bible Favorite: Cody Bellinger (26)

Other Top ContendersMax Muncy (13), David Fletcher (10), DJ LeMahieu (7)

Wherever Cody Bellinger played in 2019, he played very well. He co-led right fielders in Runs Saved with 19, had four Runs Saved in 230 innings at first base and had three Runs Saved in 170 innings after a late-season move to center field. He's a heavy favorite to win this award. That said, baseball has become a versatile man’s game and other voting options abound.

Bellinger’s teammate, Max Muncy played first, second, and third base, and played them all well. Angels utility man David Fletcher went one position better, saving at least one run at second base, shortstop, third base, and left field. They may not win, but they proved themselves worthy of accolades in 2019.

Note: For a player to qualify for the Multi-Position Award, he must have played at least 600 innings across all positions and played no more than 70 percent of those innings at any one position.

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

 
 

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