Who are the Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part 2)

October 4, 2012

A week ago, we looked at the top candidates for the Fielding Bible and Gold Glove Awards for catchers and infielders. This week, we’ll finish up with outfielders and pitchers.

I will try to outline some of my considerations for my picks for the Fielding Bible Awards. Evaluating player defensively involves both sabermetrics and visual observation. For the sabermetric part, I use Defensive Runs Saved. They are the numbers that are in parentheses next to the player names. 

Left Fielders: Injuries have derailed the two preseason favorites for the Fielding Bible Award in left field. Brett Gardner and Carl Crawford have taken the award in five of six seasons. Between them, they’ve only played 44 games this season. We will have a new winner this year, and Alex Gordon has emerged as the obvious candidate for both the Fielding Bible Award and the AL Gold Glove.

Gordon has been solid in all aspects of fielding, but it is his arm that really stands out. He has 13 baserunner kills, which are runners thrown out without a cutoff man, the most in baseball, and he has saved nine runs with his arm alone.

Martin Prado has played mostly infield in his career, but left field has been his most common position recently, and he turned in his second consecutive year of superlative defense in left this season. He holds the top spot among NL left fielders saving 12 runs with his defense this year.

The other NL Gold Glove candidates, Ryan Braun and Carlos Gonzalez, are prominent because of their offensive contributions. Braun has been solid defensively the past three seasons and would not be a bad choice. CarGo is a former Gold Glove winner and will get some attention from the Gold Glove voters, but his performance this year in left field, costing the Rockies 13 runs, should knock him out of the running. Unfortunately, some of the managers and coaches who vote for the Gold Gloves still seem to be behind the times in understanding defensive metrics, and Gonzalez could still get in.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Alex Gordon (24) Martin Prado (12)
AL Gold Glove Alex Gordon (24) Desmond Jennings (9)
NL Gold Glove Martin Prado (12) Ryan Braun (7)
Carlos Gonzalez (-13)
*Data through the end of the regular season

Center Fielders: The vote for the Fielding Bible Award in center field could easily be the closest of any position. Mike Trout has burst onto the scene as a rookie, both offensively and defensively. He would definitely take home the award if highlight plays were most important. Trout has shown good range on medium and deep fly balls, and he has four home run robberies, the most of any outfielder. If there is one deficiency in his defense, it is his arm. He has cost the Angels one run compared to a typical center fielder with his throws.

Michael Bourn has been slightly better, with two runs saved on throws. Bourn has similar range numbers to Trout on medium and deep flies and has covered more ground than Trout on shallow flies. In addition, Bourn has the most runs saved among all center fielders over the last three years. I give the edge to Bourn. Trout will have his day.

As they are the clear favorites and play in different leagues, Bourn and Trout make the most sense for their respective league Gold Gloves. Some other players that could be in the mix include Austin Jackson, who won the Fielding Bible Award in 2011 before a good, but not great, year in 2012, and Bryce Harper, who has had a quietly excellent defensive year in center field for the Nationals.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Michael Bourn (24) Mike Trout (23)
Austin Jackson (5)
AL Gold Glove Mike Trout (23) Denard Span (20)
Austin Jackson (5)
NL Gold Glove Michael Bourn (24) Bryce Harper (13)
Cameron Maybin (9)
*Data through the end of the regular season

Right Fielders: A couple of young players have become the major candidates to win the Fielding Bible Award in right field. Josh Reddick has taken advantage of his increased opportunities as a full-time player on the Athletics to show off his defensive abilities. Jason Heyward has been an excellent defender since his first game in the majors, and has taken another step forward in his third season. I expect to vote for Heyward for the Fielding Bible Award because he has better range than Reddick and has excelled defensively over a longer period of time. Hopefully, the Gold Glove voters will take notice of Heyward and award him with the Gold Glove for right fielders in the National League as well.

Andre Ethier won last season, but he has been a neutral defender this year. Over in the American League, Ichiro Suzuki’s defensive comeback year might impress Gold Glove voters more than Josh Reddick’s superior defense. Torii Hunter is a dark horse candidate. Hunter has reinvented himself as an elite defender in right field after being moved out of center field before the 2011 season. I would like to see Reddick win the AL Gold Glove but Ichiro and Hunter probably have the inside edge with the voters over him.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Jason Heyward (20) Josh Reddick (22)
Torii Hunter (15)
AL Gold Glove Ichiro Suzuki (11) Torii Hunter (15)
Josh Reddick (22)
NL Gold Glove Jason Heyward (20) Andre Ethier (2)
Giancarlo Stanton (10)
*Data through the end of the regular season

Pitchers: Mark Buehrle took his defensive show on the road this year. After winning the previous three Fielding Bible Awards and AL Gold Gloves with the White Sox, he is a leading candidate to win the Fielding Bible Award and NL Gold Glove with the Marlins. Just behind Buehrle is fellow veteran Jake Westbrook. Westbrook has saved 11 runs with his defense, second-most among pitchers this year. He also has 31 Defensive Runs Saved over the last three seasons, which is the exact same total as Buehrle.

Cy Young candidates R.A. Dickey and Johnny Cueto are also in the mix. Both are excellent preventers of the running game. Dickey has picked off four runners and allowed only four stolen bases in seven attempts, and Cueto has picked off six runners and allowed only 1 stolen base in 10 attempts. Those numbers are exceptional, especially given that both pitchers are right-handers. Unlike the NL, the American League without Buehrle has no standout candidates. Ricky Romero has saved six runs, which is the best in the league. David Price is close behind with five Defensive Runs Saved, and his elite pitching numbers could sway the Gold Glove voters.

Favorite Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Mark Buehrle (12) Jake Westbrook (11)
Johnny Cueto (8)
AL Gold Glove Ricky Romero (6) David Price (5)
NL Gold Glove Mark Buehrle (12) Jake Westbrook (11)
Johnny Cueto (8)
R.A. Dickey (6)
*Data through the end of the regular season

COMMENTS (2 Comments, most recent shown first)

Following through on sroney's point: How much is Trout affected by missing the first few weeks of the season, and by not being in the bigs till this year?
9:57 PM Oct 11th
How much is Mike Trout affected by the amount of time he has played in left field?
6:02 PM Oct 4th
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