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Who are the 2013 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part I)

October 4, 2013

The baseball regular season is behind us. It is an exciting time to look forward to the playoffs, but it is also a great time to look back at the players who have had excellent seasons. I am one of the 12 voters for The Fielding Bible Awards, which look to identify the best defensive players of the year. What follow are some of my considerations as I fill out my ballot.

This week, we’ll take a look at catchers and infielders. Next week, in Part II, we’ll look at pitchers and outfielders. In the tables below, the numbers next to the player names represent their Defensive Runs Saved.

Catchers: Yadier Molina is the reigning Fielding Bible Award winner at catcher, and he is the narrow favorite again this season. We estimate that he saved 12 runs this year, which trails both Russell Martin (16) and Wellington Castillo (19). However, on a rate basis, Molina had them beat. Molina has thrown out 42 percent of attempted basestealers and has blocked 97 percent of potential wild pitches, both of which lead all qualified catchers. In terms of raw numbers, Martin has thrown out more runners and Castillo has more blocks, but Molina has better rates with fewer opportunities. The AL Gold Glove should be a bit less of a race with Salvador Perez separating himself from his competitors with 11 Runs Saved.


Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Yadier Molina (12) Russell Martin (16)
Welington Castillo (19)
AL Gold Glove Salvador Perez (11) Joe Mauer (5)
Matt Wieters (-13)
NL Gold Glove Yadier Molina (12) Russell Martin (16)
Welington Castillo (19)

First Basemen: First base will be a competition between the new and the old. Improbably, Adrian Gonzalez has never won a Fielding Bible Award despite having saved his teams an estimated 51 runs since 2009. Gonzalez has the misfortune of being a contemporary of Albert Pujols and Mark Teixeira. With Pujols and Teixeira both out for most of 2013, this should be Gonzalez’s year. But young stars Anthony Rizzo and Paul Goldschmidt will make it competitive. Rizzo has saved 16 runs, which leads the position, and Goldschmidt has 113 Good Fielding Plays, the most among all position players. For whatever reason, most of the great defensive performances at first base this season were in the National League. No matter who it is, the AL Gold Glove winner will be a surprise.


Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Adrian Gonzalez (11) Anthony Rizzo (16)
Paul Goldschmidt (13)
AL Gold Glove Nick Swisher (6) Mike Napoli (10)
Eric Hosmer (3)
NL Gold Glove Adrian Gonzalez (11) Paul Goldschmidt (13)
Freddie Freeman (7)

Second Basemen: Second base is a much tighter race than a season ago, when Darwin Barney ran away from the field saving an estimated 28 runs for the Cubs. Barney remains a factor in 2013, but Dustin Pedroia edges him in Runs Saved thanks to his exceptional range. Pedroia also converted 46 "difficult" groundball outs, which led the position. Brandon Phillips was third in that category with 34, but he struggled to turn double plays and had a good number of other misplays this season. Phillips’ reputation may still be enough to net him the Gold Glove in the National League.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Dustin Pedroia (15) Mark Ellis (12)
Darwin Barney (11)
AL Gold Glove Dustin Pedroia (15) Robinson Cano (6)
NL Gold Glove Brandon Phillips (1) Darwin Barney (11)
Mark Ellis (12)

Third Basemen: Adrian Beltre has won this award in each of the last two seasons and four times overall. He did not submit his typically stellar defensive effort this season, but with the breakout performances from both Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado, it may not have mattered. Machado and Arenado have saved the fourth and fifth most runs of any position players. It is a shame that we have to pick just one to win the Fielding Bible Award. Machado will likely win because of his edge in Runs Saved, but the 280-inning advantage he had over Arenado, who did not start the season in the majors, shows how close they were on a per-inning basis. Fortunately, they play in different leagues and can each win their own Gold Glove.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Manny Machado (35) Nolan Arenado (30)
AL Gold Glove Manny Machado (35) Evan Longoria (12)
Josh Donaldson (12)
NL Gold Glove Nolan Arenado (30) Chase Headley (5)
David Wright (5)

Shortstops: Shortstop will prove to be the least surprising position. Andrelton Simmons set a single-season record with 41 Runs Saved. He outpaced his closest competitors, Clint Barmes and Pedro Florimon—both with 12—by an estimated 29 runs, which itself would have qualified him as the sixth-best defender in baseball. Obviously, Simmons is the total package, but his greatest attribute is his ability to avoid mistakes. Simmons played 156 games at shortstop this season, but he still only made 39 Defensive Misplays and Errors. The average shortstop in a similar number of innings made 47 Misplays and Errors. No one in the AL compares to Simmons this season, but Elvis Andrus is the likely Gold Glove favorite over Pedro Florimon and J.J. Hardy.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Andrelton Simmons (41) Clint Barmes (12)
AL Gold Glove Elvis Andrus (11) Pedro Florimon (12)
J.J. Hardy (8)
NL Gold Glove Andrelton Simmons (41) Clint Barmes (12)
Troy Tulowitzki (6)

COMMENTS (1 Comment)

how bad was votto's awful year? what's the number?
10:51 AM Oct 5th
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