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

October 7, 2013

Last week we took a look at the leading candidates for the 2013 Fielding Bible Awards and Gold Glove Awards at catcher and each of the infield positions. This week, let's turn our attention to outfielders and pitchers. As before, the numbers that accompany each player's name in the tables below are his 2013 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS).

Left Fielders: Last year, Alex Gordon ran away with the Fielding Bible Award as the unanimous selection by our expert panelists, and he has a good chance of winning it again this year. Brett Gardner had been the two-time defending Award winner before Gordon, but he was injured for much of 2012, and was moved over to center field in 2013. That leaves Carlos Gonzalez and second-year player Starling Marte as Gordon's chief competitors.

Gordon and Gonzalez actually share a similar defensive profile, with their DRS contributions spread almost equally between their range, their throwing arms, and their Good Plays/Misplays, though Gordon outpaces Gonzalez in all three categories. Marte, on the other hand, is a center fielder masquerading as a left fielder. Nineteen of his 20 runs saved are attributable to his range. Whereas Marte is outstanding at getting to balls hit in his direction, Gordon is a more well-rounded defender. In addition to Gordon's solid range, he also accumulated 29 Good Fielding Plays involving a throw, nine more than any other outfielder at any position.

As for the Gold Glove Awards, Gordon has won the AL award the past two years and likely will again this year. In the NL, Gonzalez has won the award two out of the last three years, though Marte's emergence coupled with the feel-good story of the Pirates' season may be enough to nudge him ahead.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Alex Gordon (16) Starling Marte (20)
Carlos Gonzalez (10)
AL Gold Glove Alex Gordon (16) David Murphy (8)
NL Gold Glove Starling Marte (20) Carlos Gonzalez (10)

Center Fielders: Mike Trout won the Fielding Bible Award last year as part of a superlative rookie campaign. While his offensive production was again stellar in 2013, his defensive performance took a step back. Enter Carlos Gomez.

We estimate that Gomez saved his team 38 runs in 2013, which led all center fielders by a wide margin. He has also led all center fielders over the last three years with a combined 56 runs saved. That is 19 more than the next best player, Austin Jackson, who was the 2011 Fielding Bible Award winner.

Another contender for the award is Juan Lagares. Lagares came out of nowhere to save the Mets an estimated 26 runs this year in about two-thirds the playing time as Gomez. That actually means that, on a rate basis, Gomez and Lagares were about even. Fine defensive performances were also turned in by Jacoby Ellsbury, Lorenzo Cain, and Andrew McCutchen. In the Gold Glove voting, Gomez will likely have to compete with McCutchen and his MVP-quality campaign in the NL, while Ellsbury will likely win his second Gold Glove in the AL

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Carlos Gomez (38) Juan Lagares (26)
Jacoby Ellsbury (13)
AL Gold Glove Jacoby Ellsbury (13) Lorenzo Cain (17)
Adam Jones (-2)
NL Gold Glove Carlos Gomez (38) Andrew McCutchen (7)

Right Fielders: Gerardo Parra leads the way this year. In addition to the 36 runs he saved as a right fielder, he also combined to save another five runs as a center and left fielder, giving him a total of 41 Defensive Runs Saved in 2013. That ties him with Andrelton Simmons, both for the most DRS during the 2013 season as well as for the most ever in a single season since we began keeping track in 2003. Parra does everything well. He is at the top of the list for right fielders in runs saved based on range alone, and at the top of the list based on throwing arm runs saved alone.

He is tied for second in Good Play/Misplay Runs Saved. Parra's primary competition will likely come from Shane Victorino. Victorino had a stellar season, saving his team an estimated 24 runs after making the full-time move over to right field from center. Jay Bruce also had a strong season with 18 Runs Saved. And the Fielding Bible Award incumbent, Jason Heyward, had another fine year, saving the Braves an estimated 15 runs defensively. However, it would be a major upset if Parra does not win the Award this year after such an historic season. That should carry over to the NL Gold Glove voting, where Parra was previously recognized in 2011. And in the AL, Victorino will likely prevail over last year's winner, Josh Reddick.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Gerardo Parra (36) Shane Victorino (24)
Jay Bruce (18)
Jason Heyward (15)
AL Gold Glove Shane Victorino (24) Josh Reddick (13)
NL Gold Glove Gerardo Parra (36) Jay Bruce (18)
Jason Heyward (15)

Pitchers: Mark Buehrle has been the undisputed defensive king amongst pitchers for the last several years. He has won the last four Fielding Bible Awards as well as four straight Gold Gloves, three in the AL and one in the NL. However, a fifth consecutive year is not a certainty. While he was still able to dominate the opposition running game, catching four runners trying to steal and picking off another two, his range in fielding his position dropped from well above-average to about neutral in 2013.

The leading contender to step up and grab the Fielding Bible crown may be R.A. Dickey. Over the last three years he is tied with Buehrle and Jake Westbrook for the lead amongst pitchers with 23 Defensive Runs Saved. He is also tied for second with Zack Greinke in 2013 with seven Defensive Runs Saved. Greinke could be a strong candidate himself, as he consistently fields his position well and improved his control of the running game this year. Greinke's teammate Clayton Kershaw is well qualified, too. He picked off four runners and caught another three trying to steal this season and previously won a Gold Glove back in 2011.

When measuring pitchers on Defensive Runs Saved alone, all of these guys trail Patrick Corbin who helped himself with eight Runs Saved. The Awards could go many ways. Dickey's consistency over multiple years likely gives him the edge for the Fielding Bible Award. But Mark Buehrle’s defensive prowess won’t be forgotten for either The Fielding Bible Award or for an American League Gold Glove. In the NL, Kershaw's past Gold Glove, as well as his Cy Young candidacy, may help push him ahead of the rest. However, Adam Wainwright has the same things going for him as well.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award R.A. Dickey (7) Zack Greinke (7)
Patrick Corbin (8)
Mark Buehrle (4)
AL Gold Glove Mark Buehrle (4) Hiroki Kuroda (6)
R.A. Dickey (7)
NL Gold Glove Clayton Kershaw (4) Zack Greinke (7)
Patrick Corbin (8)
Adam Wainwright (4)

COMMENTS (1 Comment)

John, does your method credit outfielders for extra bases not attempted by baserunners? If so, is it full credit or partial credit? I know that can be a tricky proposition, but I've wondered whether my dubiousness at the sometimes large +- numbers for outfield play are in part the result of baserunners' decision-making with regards to outfielder arm reputation, and not purely on baserunner kills/extra bases attempted. Thanks.
3:43 PM Oct 9th
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