THE 2012 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS have been officially announced. Yadier Molina reclaims the award at catcher that he had won every year since 2007 before Matt Wieters took it away last season.
Joining Molina as repeat winners are Mark Buehrle (his fourth consecutive) and Adrian Beltre (his fourth also). First time winners are Mark Teixeira, Darwin Barney, Brendan Ryan, Alex Gordon, Mike Trout, and Jason Heyward.
A panel of 10 analysts, listed below—including Peter Gammons, Bill James, Joe Posnanski, and Doug Glanville—examined the 2012 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 2013.
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 2012 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS:
FIRST BASE—MARK TEIXEIRA, NEW YORK YANKEES (95 POINTS)
Mark Teixeira finally broke through to win his first Fielding Bible Award. He supplanted Albert Pujols, who won the award in five of the previous six seasons. In his first year in the American League, Pujols fell to third place with 72 points with Adrian Gonzalez in second place with 84 points.
SECOND BASE—DARWIN BARNEY, CHICAGO CUBS (96 POINTS)
Darwin Barney led all second basemen in Defensive Runs Saved with 28. Closest to him were Robinson Cano and Alexi Casilla with 15. Barney secured 96 points, only 4 points short of a unanimous win. The 2011 Fielding Bible Award winner, Dustin Pedroia, was runner up in 2012 with 82 points.
THIRD BASE—ADRIAN BELTRE, TEXAS RANGERS (90 POINTS)
Adrian Beltre had some competition from a couple of new kids on the block with the defensive emergence of Mike Moustakas and Brett Lawrie at third base. Beltre edged Moustakas and Lawrie by four and seven points, respectively. Beltre has been tremendous defensively his entire career and is now the proud owner of four Fielding Bible Awards at third base.
SHORTSTOP—BRENDAN RYAN, SEATTLE MARINERS (99 POINTS)
Brendan Ryan fell one point shy of the maximum score. He has been a defensive standout for several seasons now, and with injuries limiting three-time winner Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan was finally rewarded for his excellent play. Ryan led all shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved by a significant margin with 27. His closest competitor was Atlanta rookie Andrelton Simmons with 19.
LEFT FIELD—ALEX GORDON, KANSAS CITY ROYALS (100 POINTS)
Alex Gordon was a unanimous winner finishing first on the ballot of all 10 Fielding Bible Award panelists, earning him a perfect score of 100 points. He has been tremendous defensively since the first day he walked out to left field after playing third base earlier in his career, but he did get some help this year due to injuries to other key players. Brett Gardner and Carl Crawford won five of the six previous awards in left field, but neither was consistently on the field in 2012.
CENTER FIELD—MIKE TROUT, LOS ANGELES ANGELS (96 POINTS)
In the only race that featured two candidates that received 90 or more points, Mike Trout earned what could easily be the first of many Fielding Bible Awards in his standout rookie season. Falling just short with 90 points was Michael Bourn, who won the award in 2010.
RIGHT FIELD—JASON HEYWARD, ATLANTA BRAVES (96 POINTS)
The youth movement continued in right field with first-time winner Jason Heyward. Heyward secured 96 points to top Josh Reddick, who had 84. Reddick actually saved more runs defensively for his team than did Heyward, 22 runs saved to 20, but Heyward’s excellent range and his third straight season of great defensive play earned him a well-deserved award.
CATCHER—YADIER MOLINA, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (100 POINTS)
Less surprising than Yadier Molina’s perfect score of 100 points was his loss a year ago. For whatever reason, Molina had a down year in 2011. He bounced back strong in 2012 throwing out baserunners at a 46 percent rate after his poor showing—by his own standards, anyway—of 25 percent in 2011. He had 16 Defensive Runs Saved overall, to lead all catchers. Last year’s winner, Matt Wieters, came in second with 81 points.
PITCHER—MARK BUEHRLE, MIAMI MARLINS (100 POINTS)
For Mark Buehrle, it was a new league but the same story. He was our third unanimous winner of 2012 en route to his fourth-consecutive Fielding Bible Award. Jake Westbrook had 75 points and was the closest player to him. Buehrle was solid in all aspects of his defensive play, and, as always, especially so in holding runners. He allowed only five stolen bases in eight attempts and picked off two other 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 in 2012 by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, Joe Posnanski is a Senior Writer at a new journalism venture called Sports On Earth;
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 and co-author of The Fielding Bible—Volume III;
6. Hall-of-Famer Peter Gammons serves as on-air and online analyst for MLB Network, MLB.com, and NESN (New England Sports Network);
7. 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;
8. Mark Simon has been a researcher for ESPN Stats & Information since 2002. He has worked on Baseball Tonight, co-hosts the Baseball Today podcast, and contributes regularly (sometimes on the subject of defense) to ESPNNY.com and ESPN.com;
9. 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;
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 Ben Jedlovec, Vice President of BIS and co-author of The Fielding Bible—Volume III; 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 2012 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS are presented in The Bill James Handbook 2013, published on or before November 1 every year. For more information on THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS, visit www.fieldingbible.com.