THE 2011 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS have been officially announced. Albert Pujols reclaims the Award at first base that had been his every year since the Fielding Bible Awards began in 2006 until Daric Barton snatched it away last year.
Joining Pujols as repeat winners are Mark Buehrle (his third consecutive), Troy Tulowitzki (his third, and second in a row), Adrian Beltre (his third also), and Brett Gardner (second in a row). First time winners are Dustin Pedroia, Austin Jackson, Justin Upton, and Matt Wieters.
A panel of ten analysts, listed below—including John Dewan, Peter Gammons, and Bill James—examined the 2011 seasons of every defensive player in Major League Baseball and then used the same voting technique as the Major League Baseball MVP voting. First place votes received 10 points, second place 9 points, third place 8 points, etc. A perfect score was 100. A complete record of their votes can be found in The Bill James Handbook 2012.
One important distinction that differentiates THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS from most other baseball awards, such as the Gold Gloves, is that there is only one winner at each position instead of separate winners for each league. The goal of THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS is to stand up and say: "Here is the best fielder at this position in Major League Baseball last season." Another key feature of the system is that it also recognizes the runners-up for each position, instead of just focusing on the winners.
Here are the results of THE 2011 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS:
FIRST BASE—ALBERT PUJOLS, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (82 POINTS)
Winning his fifth Fielding Bible Award wasn't easy for Pujols, as he only edged out Adrian Gonzalez by 4 points, 82 to 78, in the closest race of any of the awards.
SECOND BASE—DUSTIN PEDROIA, BOSTON RED SOX (97 POINTS)
Despite already having a Gold Glove to his name and doing well in the voting in previous years, a Fielding Bible Award had eluded Pedroia until now. He was selected overwhelmingly this year, coming in 21 points better than runner-up Ben Zobrist.
THIRD BASE—ADRIAN BELTRE, TEXAS RANGERS (98 POINTS)
Beltre won this year's Fielding Bible Award pretty convincingly with 98 points out of a possible 100. However, last year's winner, Evan Longoria, didn't go down without a fight, garnering 90 points himself. No second place finisher at any other position had more than 78.
SHORTSTOP—TROY TULOWITZKI, COLORADO ROCKIES (94 POINTS)
Tulowitzki signed a huge contract extension last offseason. Clearly the Rockies wanted to make Tulo the rock of their defense for years to come, as this is the third time he has been honored with a Fielding Bible Award as the best defender at one of the most critical positions on the field.
LEFT FIELD—BRETT GARDNER, NEW YORK YANKEES (99 POINTS)
Gardner has established himself as one of the elite outfielders in the game. He saved an estimated 22 runs for his team this year, a total usually only seen amongst center fielders. As a result, he was only one point shy of being a unanimous selection for The Fielding Bible Award in left field.
CENTER FIELD—AUSTIN JACKSON, DETROIT TIGERS (89 POINTS)
Jackson has rewarded the Tigers for clearing space to make him their starting center fielder. His 22 Defensive Runs Saved led all center fielders, the second year in a row he has done that.
RIGHT FIELD—JUSTIN UPTON, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (84 POINTS)
With a down year from three-time Fielding Bible Award winner Ichiro Suzuki, the door was opened for a new honoree. Seven different players received first place votes, but Upton emerged from the pack as this year's winner, excelling on deeply hit balls where he fielded 18 more balls in 2011 than the average right fielder would have.
CATCHER—MATT WIETERS, BALTIMORE ORIOLES (97 POINTS)
This year Wieters unseated the winner of the last four Fielding Bible Award winners at catcher, Yadier Molina. Wieters led all catchers with 14 Runs Saved, and garnered 97 points as the overwhelming choice for this year's award.
PITCHER—MARK BUEHRLE, CHICAGO WHITE SOX (90 POINTS)
Buehrle again won this award handily. Runner up R.A. Dickey only had 61 points. This is Buehrle's third straight Fielding Bible Award, as he continues to field his position very well and is a master of controlling the running game. Only three of ten would-be base-stealers were successful against him, and he picked off two additional baserunners.
1. Bill James is a baseball writer and analyst and the Senior Baseball Operations Advisor for the Boston Red Sox;
2. The BIS Video Scouts at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) study every game of the season, multiple times, charting a huge list of valuable game details;
3. The man who created Strat-O-Matic Baseball—Hal Richman;
4. Named the best sports columnist in America by the AP Sports Editors, Joe Posnanski is a Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated and occasional columnist for the Kansas City Star;
5. For over twenty years, BIS owner John Dewan has collected, published and analyzed in-depth baseball statistics and is the author of The Fielding Bible and The Fielding Bible—Volume II;
6. Doug Glanville played nine seasons in Major League Baseball and was well known for his excellent outfield defense. Currently, he is a baseball analyst at ESPN, primarily on Baseball Tonight, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.;
7. Hall-of-Famer Peter Gammons serves as on-air and online analyst for MLB Network, MLB.com, and NESN (New England Sports Network);
8. After nearly fifteen years with ESPN.com, Rob Neyer joined SB Nation as National Baseball Editor in 2011. He has written six books about baseball. ;
9. Todd Radcliffe is Lead Video Scout at Baseball Info Solutions;
10. The Tom Tango Fan Poll represents the results of a poll taken at the website, Tango on Baseball (www.tangotiger.net). Besides hosting the website, Tom writes research articles devoted to sabermetrics.;
The three tie-breakers are Steve Moyer, President of BIS, Dan Casey, veteran Video Scout at BIS, and Dave Studenmund, one of the owners of www.hardballtimes.com and the editor of The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.
Complete results and voting on THE 2011 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS are presented in The Bill James Handbook 2012, published on or before November 1 every year. For more information on The Fielding Bible Awards, visit www.fieldingbible.com.