The Fielding Bible All-Decade Team

December 30, 2019
Since 2006, Baseball Info Solutions has used The Fielding Bible Awards as its means of honoring the top defensive players in baseball. The Fielding Bible Awards have been voted on by a panel of experts – baseball writers, broadcasters, statistical analysts, and former major league players. Voting is based on both visual observation and performance in objective fielding metrics. With that in mind, we decided to take the voting from past Fielding Bible Awards and use it to come up with a team of the best defensive players in the 2010s.
 
Our methodology for picking the All-Decade representatives was to use the Fielding Bible voting that was conducted annually throughout the decade. The player with the highest summed vote total from the 10 seasons was deemed the winner at that position. Note that for the years 2010 to 2012, each player’s vote total was multiplied by 1.2 to account for the use of 10 voters in those years compared to 12 in the other years.
 
Fielding Bible Award Vote Leaders, 2010-2019
  Position Player
  First Base Paul Goldschmidt
  Second Base Dustin Pedroia
  Shortstop Andrelton Simmons
  Third Base Nolan Arenado
  Left Field Alex Gordon
  Center Field Lorenzo Cain
  Right Field Jason Heyward
  Catcher Yadier Molina
  Pitcher Zack Greinke
  Multi-Position Javier Báez

 

Paul Goldschmidt starred for the Diamondbacks for most of the decade. His three Fielding Bible Awards (2013, 2015, 2017) were the most of anyone at first base in the 2010s. Goldschmidt’s 9.5 Scoop Runs Saved rank second to Freddie Freeman among first basemen this decade.

 

Dustin Pedroia’s four Fielding Bible Awards (2011, 2013, 2014, 2016) are the most for any second baseman since BIS began presenting the honor in 2006. Known for a distinct and sizable crow hop that he combined with great anticipatory skills, Pedroia twice led the position in Defensive Runs Saved during the 2010s and had four straight seasons with at least 10 Runs Saved.

 

Andrelton Simmons is the only player to win a Fielding Bible Award in six straight seasons. He did it in his first six full seasons in the major leagues (2013 to 2018). His 193 Defensive Runs Saved are the most of any player at any position for the decade, 115 more than the shortstop with the next-highest total (Brandon Crawford, 78).

Nolan Arenado didn't win a Fielding Bible Award until his third major league season, but once he did, he won three in a row (2015 to 2017). Arenado’s 105 Defensive Runs Saved were the most of any third baseman this decade, even though he didn’t start playing until 2013.

Alex Gordon has had staying power. His four Fielding Bible Awards (2012, 2013, 2014, 2018) are the most of any left fielder, edging Brett Gardner and Carl Crawford by one. His 45 Outfield Arm Runs Saved this decade were the key to his success. They are the most by any outfielder in the 2010s.

Lorenzo Cain became the first center fielder to win the Fielding Bible Award in consecutive seasons (2018, 2019) and also won the Multi-Position award in 2014. Cain’s specialty has been chasing down the deep fly ball. In 2019 he tied the single-season mark for home run robberies (5) since BIS began tracking them in 2004.

Jason Heyward’s consistently excellent defense won him three Fielding Bible Awards (2012, 2014, 2015). He reached double-digits in Defensive Runs Saved in right field in each of the first eight years of the decade. His 141 Runs Saved from Range & Positioning are more than double the next-highest total of any right fielder this decade.

Yadier Molina won three Fielding Bible Awards in the 2000s and three more in the 2010s, giving him six in total. That ties Andrelton Simmons for the most such awards won. Molina set the mark for most Defensive Runs Saved by a catcher with 30 in 2013 (since tied by Roberto Pérez in 2019). He also totaled 29 in 2012 and 26 in 2010.

Zack Greinke’s only Fielding Bible Awards came the last two seasons. But he’s been in the hunt frequently, finishing second four times this decade. Greinke’s kept himself in top shape and been a standout athlete throughout his career. That’s allowed him to get off the mound aggressively to make plays that other pitchers don’t make.

Javier Báez won the Multi-Position award in three consecutive seasons (2016, 2017, 2018) so he comes out on top. This award comes with an asterisk in that it wasn’t given out until 2014. Had it been awarded for the entirety of the decade, there’s a chance that Ben Zobrist, who played excellent defense at second base and in the outfield, would have edged Báez out.

For more statistical leaders, check out the 2020 Bill James Handbook and the Sports Info Solutions blog. 

 
 

COMMENTS (4 Comments, most recent shown first)

Brian
Thank you for the article and for the monumental amounts of research over the last decade and on the topic of defense in general.

Any chance you could do an article on the worst fielders of the decade?
2:47 PM Jan 3rd
 
MarisFan61
(that's While, not "White," in the Greinke paragraph) :-)
12:37 AM Jan 2nd
 
MarisFan61
Looks good to me too.
Everything makes great sense.

I knew about Greinke's reputation but didn't really have a chance to observe it till this post-season, where we saw it big-big-time. White it didn't give him any wins, it was an utter weapon.

The only surprise to me, which is only a comment on what I have and haven't seen, not at all a comment on the selection, is GOLDSCHMIDT.
To those who have seen him a lot -- not asking for recitation of metrics, I know about those; asking about experience observation -- is he really that great of a defensive player?
Not doubting it; I imagine it's so, but besides not having seen him enough, I just haven't gotten any impression that he has such a reputation.

In terms of metrics:
Goldschmidt does show well -- very well -- on fielding Win Shares (per Baseball Gauge).
But, for what it's worth, Anthony Rizzo shows a bit better. Several others, including Freddie Freeman, Adrian Gonzalez, and Eric Hosmer, show about as well as Goldschmidt or very close. BTW none of this argues against the pick of Goldschmidt -- it's well consistent with his deserving it, but it doesn't trumpet it forth.
BTW, if you're wondering about what "dWAR" shows, forget it -- you won't get anything useful for this from that, maybe unless you know how to look at dWAR under some kind of microscope. :-)
12:36 AM Jan 2nd
 
nettles9
Looks good to me. Thank you for a decade-plus of moving the discussion forward and measuring of defense in baseball intelligently.
9:11 AM Dec 31st
 
 
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