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Who are the Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders?

September 26, 2012

We’re a week away from the close of the regular season, so let’s examine the leading contenders for the defensive awards for 2012. I am one of the ten voters for The Fielding Bible Awards, and what follows are some of my considerations when I fill out my ballot.

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

Catchers: Matt Wieters took the Fielding Bible Award a year ago, unseating Yadier Molina, who won the award the previous four seasons. Well, Molina has reasserted himself, and then some. Molina has saved 17 runs, more than double the 8 of Salvador Perez, the catcher closest behind him. Last year, Molina threw out a career-low 25 percent of baserunners attempting a stolen base. This year, he is at 46 percent, in line with the best years of his career. In addition, his Catcher’s ERA is down to 3.61 from 3.91 a year ago and is 0.69 points better than his primary backup, Tony Cruz. (Note: Salvador Perez is not eligible for The Fielding Bible Award because his first-half injury limited his innings.)

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Yadier Molina (17) Kurt Suzuki (6)
AL Gold Glove Matt Wieters (4) Salvador Perez (8)
Joe Mauer (-7)
NL Gold Glove Yadier Molina (17) Carlos Ruiz (4)
Josh Thole (7)
*Data through games on Tuesday, 9/25/12

First Basemen: Albert Pujols has won five of the previous six Fielding Bible Awards, which is one better than even Yadier Molina. He has played to a similar standard as in his two most recent seasons, which is somewhat worse than in his prime but still very good. This year, it is likely not good enough to win the award.

Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira have each saved 16 defensive runs and are well known for their excellent defense. Gonzalez spent most of his year in the AL, and now that Pujols is there, as well, he will probably be shut out of both awards. On the other hand, that move could open the door in the NL for a Joey Votto repeat. Despite some missed time this year, Votto has five more Defensive Runs Saved than he had a year ago when he won the NL Gold Glove.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Adrian Gonzalez (16) Mark Teixeira (16)
AL Gold Glove Mark Teixeira (16) Adrian Gonzalez (16)
Albert Pujols (8)
NL Gold Glove Joey Votto (9) Adam LaRoche (7)
*Data through games on Tuesday, 9/25/12

Second Basemen: At second base, it has been all Darwin Barney this season. After a couple of neutral defensive seasons in 2010 and 2011, Barney exploded in 2012 with 27 Defensive Runs Saved for the Cubs, behind only Brendan Ryan at all positions. In particular, he has really improved his range on ground balls to both his left and right.

Barney is a heavy favorite for the Fielding Bible Award, but he may struggle to beat out three-time Gold Glove winner Brandon Phillips for the NL Gold Glove. Phillips has had a nice season, himself, and he makes a lot of exciting plays. In the AL, both Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia have had solid defensive seasons. They have each won one Gold Glove in the last two seasons, and one of them will probably take it this year, as well.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Darwin Barney (27) Robinson Cano (14)
Dustin Pedroia (11)
AL Gold Glove Robinson Cano (14) Dustin Pedroia (11)
NL Gold Glove Brandon Phillips (8) Darwin Barney (27)
Mark Ellis (8)
*Data through games on Tuesday, 9/25/12

Third Basemen: Adrian Beltre has won the Fielding Bible Award in two of the last four seasons, and he has put together another solid campaign in 2012, with 13 Defensive Runs Saved. However, a pair of young players and one resurgent veteran have exceeded Beltre this season. Brett Lawrie, with 20 Runs Saved, has a small lead on David Wright and Mike Moustakas, with 18 and 17 Runs Saved, respectively. That could make it a pretty close vote for the Fielding Bible Award. By reputation, Beltre and Wright will have an easier time in their respective Gold Gloves.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Brett Lawrie (20) David Wright (18)
Adrian Beltre (13)
AL Gold Glove Adrian Beltre (13) Brett Lawrie (20)
Mike Moustakas (17)
NL Gold Glove David Wright (18) Ryan Zimmerman (0)
*Data through games on Tuesday, 9/25/12

Shortstops: It is hard to believe that Brendan Ryan has never won either a Fielding Bible Award or a Gold Glove. Ryan has at least 18 Defensive Runs Saved in each of the last three seasons, and he has already flown by those previous totals with 29 this season. That’s 12 more than J.J. Hardy, the closest shortstop behind him. In addition to covering ground, Ryan has converted an impressive 77 percent of his opportunities for double plays, which is a career high. Ryan leads all players in Runs Saved and could break through for his first Fielding Bible Award.

It is less clear how he will fare against some of the bigger names at short for the American League Gold Glove, like J.J. Hardy and recent winner Erick Aybar. Over in the National League, Andrelton Simmons will win his share of defensive awards during his career. He did not get enough playing time to be on the Fielding Bible Award ballot this year, but he may have done enough to snag his first NL Gold Glove.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Brendan Ryan (29) Alexei Ramirez (14)
Yunel Escobar (16)
AL Gold Glove Brendan Ryan (29) Erick Aybar (3)
J. J. Hardy (17)
NL Gold Glove Andrelton Simmons (17) Clint Barmes (14)
Jimmy Rollins (-7)
*Data through games on Tuesday, 9/25/12

COMMENTS (2 Comments, most recent shown first)

Gotta tell you I see little chance Simmons will win a Gold Glove in the next three years. He's tall and smooth, more of the Ripken model than the Ozzie. But it's his throwing motion that kill his chances. He throws like a girl. Never mind the fact that the ball comes out of that funky motion about 95 mph or that the end effect is Shawon Dunston's arm with Johnny Bench's release. It just looks funny.

Once folks realize he's gonna be a consistent .300 hitter with a little pop, he'll win some Gold Gloves. But until then, I'll just be content with the best secret in baseball.
2:30 PM Oct 1st
The gold glove MLB gives out is a joke of an award. Might as well be a high school homecoming queen crown. Award rarely - like very rarely - goes the the best defensive player, see Jeter's 5 awards and that should be enough to prove the award a joke.
10:12 PM Sep 29th
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