The 2015 Fielding Bible Awards

November 1, 2015

THE 2015 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS have been officially announced, and the discussion has to start with center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. In his first full season in the majors, Kiermaier saved the Rays an incredible 42 runs in center field, the most by a player in a season since Baseball Info Solutions first measured Defensive Runs Saved in 2003. Previously, that record was held by Andrelton Simmons, who saved the Braves 41 runs at shortstop in 2013. Unsurprisingly, Simmons also won a Fielding Bible Award this season. Both were unanimous winners, as was Jason Heyward in right field.

Simmons and Heyward were two of the four total repeat winners this season. Simmons has unanimously won the Award in each of his three full seasons in the majors and is the best defensive player in baseball today. Former teammate Heyward won his third Award in right field, though this year it was as a member of the Cardinals. Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel each won their second Awards.

The first-time winners include Ian Kinsler at second base, Nolan Arenado at third base, Starling Marte in left field, Kiermaier in center field, Buster Posey at catcher, and Ender Inciarte at multi-position.

A panel of 12 analysts, listed below, examined the 2015 seasons of every defensive player in Major League Baseball and then used the same voting technique as the MVP voting. First place votes received 10 points, second place 9 points, third place 8 points, etc. A perfect score was 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 of THE 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 Bill James Handbook 2016.

Here are the results of THE 2015 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS:

Position Winner Points
First Base Paul Goldschmidt 118
Second Base Ian Kinsler 106
Third Base Nolan Arenado 116
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons 120
Left Field Starling Marte 116
Center Field Kevin Kiermaier 120
Right Field Jason Heyward 120
Catcher Buster Posey 116
Pitcher Dallas Keuchel 115
Multi-Position Ender Inciarte 94

The Panel

Bill James is a baseball writer and analyst and the Senior Baseball Operations Advisor for the Boston Red Sox.

The BIS Video Scouts at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) study every game of the season, multiple times, charting a huge list of valuable game details.

As the MLB Network on-air host of Clubhouse Confidential and MLB Now, Brian Kenny brings an analytical perspective on the game of baseball to a national television audience. He also won a 2003 Sports Emmy Award as host of ESPN's Baseball Tonight.

Dave Cameron is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

Doug Glanville played nine seasons in Major League Baseball and was well known for his excellent outfield defense. Currently, he is a baseball analyst at ESPN on Baseball Tonight, SportsCenter, Wednesday Night Baseball, and ESPN.com, as well as a regular contributor to The New York Times, and he is the author of the book The Game from Where I Stand.

The man who created Strat-O-Matic Baseball, Hal Richman.

Named the best sports columnist in America in 2012 by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, Joe Posnanski is the National Columnist at NBC Sports.

For over twenty-five years, BIS owner John Dewan has collected, analyzed, and published in-depth baseball statistics and analysis. He has authored or co-authored four volumes of The Fielding Bible.

Mark Simon has been a researcher for ESPN Stats & Information since 2002 and currently helps oversee the Stats & Information blog and Twitter (@espnstatsinfo). He is a regular contributor on baseball (often writing on defense) for ESPNNY.com and ESPN.com, and is the author of Numbers Don't Lie: The Biggest Numbers in Yankees History (published by Triumph Books in June 2016).

Peter Gammons serves as on-air and online analyst for MLB Network, MLB.com and NESN (New England Sports Network). He is the 56th recipient of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award for outstanding baseball writing given by the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America).

Rob Neyer has been a working writer for 25 years, and FOXSports.com's Senior Baseball Editor for some of those years. When he's not writing, he's thinking about not writing. Rob will live in Portland, Oregon for as long as they let him.

The Tom Tango Fan Poll represents the results of a poll taken at the website, Tango on Baseball (www.tangotiger.net). Besides hosting the website, Tom writes research articles devoted to sabermetrics and is the co-author of The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball.

Our three tie-breakers are Ben Jedlovec, President of Baseball Info Solutions and co-author of The Fielding Bible—Volume III and The Fielding Bible—Volume IV, Dan Casey, veteran Video Scout and Senior Operations Analyst at BIS, and Sean Forman, the founder of Baseball-Reference.com.


Complete results and voting on THE 2015 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS are presented in The Bill James Handbook 2016, published on or before November 1 every year. For more information on THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS, visit www.fieldingbible.com.

 
 

COMMENTS (2 Comments, most recent shown first)

slh112358
re: Jimgus' system

I have to assume that small-sample-size is contributing a lot of noise in RF to put Demon Young and the word "elite" in the same sentence like that.
10:29 AM Nov 7th
 
jimgus
Gents,
By way of contrast, I have compiled the best defenders by my own ranking schema. For the past few years, I have been wanting to chime in with them as a comment to this annual article, and now I guess I have the stones to do so. You web-master guys can feel free to remove this comment if it strikes you as self-serving…
Now, first things first – please note that I am IN NO WAY saying that my rankings are any better than those in this article… in fact, I have every confidence that those in this article are far more accurate than mine. However, mine have to go back to 1901, so they aren’t the beneficiary of the level of excellent detail that BIS uses to determine their rankings. Still, I like to compare how my rudimentary (i.e. “back-of-the-card”) analysis compares to that of the experts.
So, here we go…
C: Buster Posey is “Excellent” but Yadier and Wilson Ramos are both “Elite.”
Close but “no agreement” for me.
2B: Ian Kinsler is “Elite” but so are Rougned Odor and Brian Dozier, as well as Dee Gordon, D.J. LeMahieu, Jace Peterson, and Kolton Wong. Not a lot of differentiation, eh? ?
I’ll say that my method agrees with TFB’s.
3B: There’s a boatload of “Elite’s.” But, they DO include Arenado, along with: Martin Prado, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Seager, Trevor Plouffe, and Manny Machado (of course!).
Another “agreement” for me.
SS: Here’s where the test is… If my methods don’t yield Andrleton, then they are useless. Happily, the Braves’ shortstop IS “Elite.” So are: Jean Segura, Nick Ahmed, Alexi Ramirez, and The Living Elvis. Troy Tulowitski scores very well, but doesn’t have the time logged in order to earn the highest rank.
Still agreeing…
The Outfield is more discriminating:
LF: Interestingly, Marte is “merely” rated as “Excellent” by my system. There are about five guys that out-rate Marte (that is, they rate “Elite”), but they are all part-timers. And, the only “perfect” score in LF belongs to Eddie Rosario, in half a season’s worth of play.
No agreement here.
CF: Yes, Kiermaier chimes in with an “Elite” rating – in fact he is “perfect.” So is Leonys Martin (a past winner, right?). Also rating “Elite” is Adam Jones. Sorry, Bill… not Jackie Bradley – not enough playing time. Oh yeah, in the NL, we also had Sliding Billy with a “perfect” score, joined by a few part-timers: Gerardo Parra (also a past winner?), Melvin Upton, and – of all guys, considering the series that we just witnessed – Yoenis Cespedes!
I’ll say “yes, agreed” between the two systems on this one as well.
RF: Just like Starling Marte in LF, Justin Heyward is merely “Excellent” in RF. This might be because the only “Elite’s” in the NL are: Giancarlo Stanton, Domonic Brown and Hunter Pence, all copping their ratings in shorter seasons; but nobody rates “perfect.” Meanwhile, in the AL RF (also with zero “perfect” ratings), it’s Avisail Garcia on the top of the heap, joined in “Elite-ness” by Colby Rasmus and Delmon Young, each also with fewer innings under their belts. So, I suppose that Garcia is the king of the RF hill in my system.
Hence, no agreement between TFB and me.
Final scorecard:
Four “agrees” (including all three “meaningful” IF’s – which are pretty easy).
Three “no agrees” (including two out of three of the OF’s – which are much more detailed, thus harder).
Cordially,
JimmyG

3:07 PM Nov 2nd
 
 
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