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

September 19, 2011

With two weeks left in the 2011 regular season, let’s look at who the leading contenders are for post-season defensive awards. As one of the ten panelists voting for The Fielding Bible Awards I’d like to give you a preview of some of the considerations I put into my ballot.

As we have done in the past, we will split this into two parts. This week we will take a look at catchers and infielders, and next week we will look at outfielders and pitchers. One of the measuring sticks I use is Defensive Runs Saved, which you will find next to each player's name in the charts that appear below. Other factors come into play as well – you’ll see some of those as you continue reading.

Catchers: Last year marked the first time ever that a player was chosen unanimously as a Fielding Bible Award winner when the voters all selected Yadier Molina as the top defensive catcher in the majors. He also won the NL Gold Glove Award. It was his fourth consecutive Fielding Bible Award and third consecutive NL Gold Glove. That's quite a reign of dominance. However, in my book, Yadier has slipped. Here are the key factors:

  • He has his lowest percentage of runners caught stealing (25%) and the most stolen bases allowed (44) in his career. Both pedestrian numbers for catchers.
  • He only has two catcher pick-offs this year after averaging six per year in his career.
  • The ERA of pitchers he has caught this year is 3.97 compared to his backup catcher’s Catcher ERA of 3.57 (Gerald Laird). That’s 40 points worse. Through a complicated formula taking into account the quality of the pitchers they caught, this leads to an estimate of five runs that Molina has cost the Cardinals this year as a result of his pitcher handling. For comparison purposes, Matt Wieters has allowed an ERA 40 points better than his backup Craig Tatum (4.62 vs. 5.03).
  • Combined, these factors lead to an estimated four runs that Yadier has cost the Cardinals this year (-4 Runs Saved).

Based on what I’ve researched thus far, Matt Wieters with nine Runs Saved and a 34% caught stealing percentage, among other things, is the choice.

  Favorite
Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Matt Wieters (9) Chris Iannetta (6)
Miguel Montero (6)
AL Gold Glove Matt Wieters (9) Jeff Mathis (4)
Joe Mauer (1)
NL Gold Glove Chris Iannetta (6)
Miguel Montero (6)
Yadier Molina (-4)

*Data through games of Thursday, 9/15/11

First Basemen: First base lacks a standout candidate this year. Due to attrition and injury, last year's leaders have declined, and no one has really stepped up to replace them. On top of the Runs Saved leaderboard are Daniel Murphy (in limited duty) and Mark Trumbo with six Runs Saved each. However, past Fielding Bible Award winner, Daric Barton, and past Gold Glove winner, Adrian Gonzalez, are close to the top with four Runs Saved each. Mark Teixeira is also likely to factor into the AL Gold Glove voting. Albert Pujols, last year’s NL Gold Glove winner, will be a factor this year as well even though, like Teixeira, he has only saved an estimated one run defensively for his team this year. Daniel Murphy is not likely to get much consideration because of his limited play (only 419 innings at first base thus far), but he was also outstanding in 2009 in 849 innings with 11 Runs Saved.

  Favorite
Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Adrian Gonzalez (4) Mark Trumbo (6)
Daric Barton (4)
AL Gold Glove Adrian Gonzalez (4) Mark Trumbo (6)
Daric Barton (4)
Mark Teixeira (1)
NL Gold Glove Albert Pujols (1) Todd Helton (1)
Daniel Murphy (6)

*Data through games of Thursday, 9/15/11

Second Basemen:
It's time to recognize Ben Zobrist, the Jack of All Positions. This year the top eight second basemen in Runs Saved are all in the AL, with Zobrist leading the pack having saved his team an estimate 18 runs defensively. Zobrist has spent the majority of his time this year at second base, continuing the excellence he has shown there previously in more limited time. He is followed closely by Howie Kendrick with 16, Ian Kinsler with 15 and Dustin Pedroia with 13. The NL is led by former Fielding Bible Award and two-time Gold Glove Award winner Brandon Phillips with five Runs Saved.

  Favorite
Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Ben Zobrist (18) Howie Kendrick (16)
Ian Kinsler (15)
Dustin Pedroia (13)
AL Gold Glove Ben Zobrist (18) Howie Kendrick (16)
Ian Kinsler (15)
Dustin Pedroia (13)
NL Gold Glove Brandon Phillips (5) Chase Utley (3)

*Data through games of Thursday, 9/15/11

Third Basemen: This has been a big comeback season for Pablo Sandoval, both offensively and defensively. The Panda leads all third basemen having saved an estimated 20 runs for his team, but the likely Fielding Bible Award winner is Adrian Beltre (17 Runs Saved), who has been excellent year after year after year. Evan Longoria won the 2010 Fielding Bible Award and the 2010 AL Gold Glove. Longoria will provide some competition for Beltre for both awards again this year, but the nod is likely to go to Beltre. In the NL, Placido Polanco and last year’s Gold Glove winner, Scott Rolen, will give Pablo Sandoval a run for his money.

  Favorite
Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Adrian Beltre (17) Pablo Sandoval (20)
AL Gold Glove Adrian Beltre (17) Evan Longoria (9)
NL Gold Glove Pablo Sandoval (20) Placido Polanco (11)
Scott Rolen (6)

*Data through games of Thursday, 9/15/11

Shortstop: Shortstop is a tightly clustered pack this year among the Runs Saved leaders. Brendan Ryan has been among the top shortstops in the league each of the last two years, and he finds himself there again this year with 16 Runs Saved. Perhaps this will be the year that he takes home some hardware. But Troy Tulowitzki will have a major say in defending his Fielding Bible and Gold Glove awards from last year.

  Favorite
Other Contenders
Fielding Bible Award Troy Tulowitzki (12) Brandan Ryan (16)
Alex Gonzalez (14)
AL Gold Glove Brendan Ryan (16)
Elvis Andrus (11)
NL Gold Glove Troy Tulowitzki (12) Alex Gonzalez (14)
Clint Barmes (14)

*Data through games of Thursday, 9/15/11

Next week, we'll review outfielders and pitchers.

 
 

COMMENTS (1 Comment)

DavidM
How did the much debated Jeter do this year?
9:20 PM Oct 14th
 
 
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