Monday, November 5, 2018


For Immediate Release: October 29, 2018
For further information on The Fielding Bible Awards or The Bill James Handbook 2019, contact Greg Pierce at 800.397.2282 or
Presenting the Ten Winners
of the Thirteenth Annual
Fielding Bible Awards
First-Timers Win Half of the
Fielding Bible Awards for 2018
Five newbies joined five repeat winners today in being recognized for their defensive excellence during the 2018 Major League Baseball season. The Fielding Bible Awards, recognized as being tougher to win than a Gold Glove because only one award is given for each position in Major League Baseball, were announced by John Dewan, co-author of The Fielding Bible and long-time collaborator with Bill James in the development of statistical analysis in baseball known as Sabermetrics. “In my opinion, what we have done in the sabermetric community in the last few years is raise fielding to a level of importance on the ballfield equal to hitting and pitching,” says Dewan.
Andrelton Simmons of the Angels has more Fielding Bible Awards than the five new faces in this year’s list of the 10 top fielders in 2018. Simmons (SS) garnered his sixth consecutive Fielding Bible Award, while Alex Gordon of the Royals (LF) returned after a three-year hiatus with his fourth Fielding Bible win. Mookie Betts of the Red Sox (RF) and Javier Baez of the Cubs (Multi-Position) each gathered up his third award in a row, and Lorenzo Cain of the Brewers (CF) received his second after having won the Multi-Position award in 2014.
But the five first-time winners are the story this year: the corner infield duo of Athletics—Matt Olson (1B) and Matt Chapman (3B)—and the battery of Diamondbacks—Jeff Mathis (C) and Zack Greinke (P)—as well as the slick Kolton Wong of the Cardinals (2B) proved that fielding prowess among elite major league players is highly competitive and can improve from season to season and throughout a career.
The awards are determined by a panel of 12 baseball experts, who rank the top-10 players at each defensive position (including the multi-position players left out of Gold Glove voting) a on a scale from one to 10—a similar scoring technique to the Major League Baseball MVP voting. A first-place vote gets 10 points, second place gets nine points, third place gets eight points, etc. Total up the points for each player, and the player with the most points wins the award. A perfect score is 120. The judges’ names and votes are published each year, offering the reader complete transparency on the voting. These are published in The Bill James Handbook 2019, which is available (as it is each year) on November 1 and contains the life-time stats of all players who appeared in the majors in 2018.
Here are the 10 Fielding Bible Award winners for the 2018 season, with comments by Dewan after each. “In our judges opinion,” explained Dewan, “these were simply the best fielders at their positions last year in major league ball.”
First Base – Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics
“Olson helps his teammates more than he helps himself. He was the best in baseball, scooping 44 difficult throws from his fellow infielders. The next best first baseman had 31 scoops. Olson is not the most athletic first baseman, but he is the most consistent. His range is not as wide as some others, but when it comes to handling balls that are defined as ‘straight-on’ by Baseball Info Solutions, he was the best with nine more plays than an average first baseman. He led all first basemen in baseball saving 14 runs for the A's defensively.”
Previous Winners:
2017    Paul Goldschmidt      
2016    Anthony Rizzo
2015    Paul Goldschmidt      
2014    Adrian Gonzalez        
2013    Paul Goldschmidt      
2012    Mark Teixeira             
2011    Albert Pujols
2010    Daric Barton
2009    Albert Pujols
2008    Albert Pujols
2007    Albert Pujols
2006    Albert Pujols
Second Base – Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals
“The little man got his revenge in 2018. After 6'4" DJ LeMahieu beat out runner-up 5'6" Jose Altuve in 2017, the 5'9" Wong edged LeMahieu in the second-closest vote of the 2018 Fielding Bible Awards. Only five points separated the two in the voting, with Wong getting 111 points to 106 for LeMahieu. Wong had 19 Defensive Runs Saved in 2018, the most among second basemen. He excels going to his left handling batted balls in the hole between first and second, as good or better than anyone in baseball. On top of that, he did very well going the other way with an 89% success rate on plays he attempted to backhand in 2018.”
Previous Winners:
2017    DJ LeMahieu              
2016    Dustin Pedroia           
2015    Ian Kinsler                  
2014    Dustin Pedroia           
2013    Dustin Pedroia           
2012    Darwin Barney
2011    Dustin Pedroia
2010    Chase Utley
2009    Aaron Hill
2008    Brandon Phillips
2007    Aaron Hill
2006    Orlando Hudson
Third Base – Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics
“While he was helped on occasion by the scoops of fellow Fielding Bible Award winner Matt Olson, Chapman saved the most runs defensively in all of baseball at any position in 2018 (29 Defensive Runs Saved). His arm is a cannon. He was clocked throwing 98 as a pitching prospect and the speed is still there. It allows him to make plays down the line that no one else can. No third baseman was better on balls hit to his right. Chapman throws his body all over the field to make plays. He had 36 plays where he dove, slid or jumped to make the play. Yolmer Sanchez was a not-close second among third basemen with 25.”
Previous Winners:
2017    Nolan Arenado           
2016    Nolan Arenado           
2015    Nolan Arenado           
2014    Josh Donaldson          
2013    Manny Machado        
2012    Adrian Beltre             
2011    Adrian Beltre
2010    Evan Longoria
2009    Ryan Zimmerman
2008    Adrian Beltre
2007    Pedro Feliz
2006    Adrian Beltre
Shortstop – Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels
“Six straight Fielding Bible Awards says it all for Mr. Defense. That's the most consecutive awards in the history of the awards; no one else has won more than four in a row. Simmons tied Nick Ahmed for the lead among shortstops with 21 Defensive Runs Saved. Simmons posted positive range numbers on balls hit to his left, right, and straight-on, doing so in all three in the same season for the second time in his career: +8 plays (compared to the average shortstop) on balls in the hole, +12 on balls to his left, and +5 on balls hit straight on.”
Previous Winners:
2017    Andrelton Simmons  
2016    Andrelton Simmons  
2015    Andrelton Simmons  
2014    Andrelton Simmons  
2013    Andrelton Simmons  
2012    Brendan Ryan
2011    Troy Tulowitzki
2010    Troy Tulowitzki
2009    Jack Wilson
2008    Jimmy Rollins
2007    Troy Tulowitzki
2006    Adam Everett
Left Field – Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
“Like Brett Gardner last year, Gordon had some time off from being recognized as the best left-field defender in baseball. He won three straight Fielding Bible Awards between 2012 and 2014, and now wins his fourth overall in 2018. As a former third baseman, he's always had a strong arm for a left fielder. He showed it again this year saving six runs defensively with his arm among his MLB-leading 16 left-field DRS overall. He had seven outfield Kills (direct throws to a base to nab a runner). He averaged three Good Fielding Plays per 100 innings; no other regular left fielder averaged even two.”
Previous Winners:
2017    Brett Gardner             
2016    Starling Marte            
2015    Starling Marte            
2014    Alex Gordon               
2013    Alex Gordon               
2012    Alex Gordon               
2011    Brett Gardner
2010    Brett Gardner
2009    Carl Crawford
2008    Carl Crawford
2007    Eric Byrnes
2006    Carl Crawford
Center Field – Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers
“If you want great outfield defense Cain is your man. He has always been a great defender, whether it's been in center field or in right field where he dominated defensively for the Royals for so many years. Cain's versatility was rewarded with a Multi-Position Fielding Bible Award in 2014. After playing center field exclusively for the last two years, Cain receives this Fielding Bible Award for center field in 2018. His game is going back and getting it—he was +13 on balls hit over his head in 2018. He led all center fielders with 20 Defensive Runs Saved. After struggling a bit holding and throwing out runners in 2017, he improved from -6 DRS with his arm in 2017 to +5 in 2018. No center fielder has won back-to-back Fielding Bible Awards—can Cain be the first in 2019?”
Previous Winners:
2017    Byron Buxton             
2016    Kevin Pillar                 
2015    Kevin Kiermaier         
2014    Juan Lagares              
2013    Carlos Gomez            
2012    Mike Trout                 
2011    Austin Jackson
2010    Michael Bourn
2009    Franklin Gutierrez
2008    Carlos Beltran
2007    Andruw Jones
2006    Carlos Beltran
Right Field – Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
“Back-to-back-to-back. And unanimous in both 2017 and 2018. Betts has taken every first-place vote for defense in right field for two years in a row in the Fielding Bible Awards, attaining the perfect score of 120 both years. When it's obvious it's obvious: Betts is the best. He has 83 Defensive Runs Saved over the last three years. Second best in right field is 35. Betts not only has a great arm, amazing speed, and tremendous range, he also gets a great first step on balls hit in any direction.”
Previous Winners:
2017    Mookie Betts             
2016    Mookie Betts             
2015    Jason Heyward          
2014    Jason Heyward          
2013    Gerardo Parra            
2012    Jason Heyward          
2011    Justin Upton
2010    Ichiro Suzuki
2009    Ichiro Suzuki
2008    Franklin Gutierrez
2007    Alex Rios
2006    Ichiro Suzuki
Catcher – Jeff Mathis, Arizona Diamondbacks
“Mathis only played just over 500 innings in 2018, but his 17 Defensive Runs Saved led all catchers by a wide margin (12 was second best). The announcer in a recent playoff game said "there should be a stat for that" when the catcher blocked a potential wild pitch to keep the runner for advancing. There is! It's called Catcher Blocks, and Mathis was the best in baseball in 2018 blocking 96.4% of difficult pitches (primarily pitches in the dirt) when one or more runners were on base or in a strikeout situation. Plus he is one of the best getting extra strikes framing pitches (ranking third with 1.6 extra strikes earned per 100 called pitches).”
Previous Winners:
2017    Martin Maldonado     
2016    Buster Posey              
2015    Buster Posey              
2014    Jonathan Lucroy         
2013    Yadier Molina
2012    Yadier Molina
2011    Matt Wieters
2010    Yadier Molina
2009    Yadier Molina
2008    Yadier Molina
2007    Yadier Molina
2006    Ivan Rodriguez
Pitcher – Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks
“Greinke has been deserving as an excellent defender for many years and he finally wins his first Fielding Bible Award in 2018. After every pitch Greinke lands in good position to make plays, staying ever alert. He is quick to both sides of the mound, and he can come in to field a short chopper and make a quick throw to first base. He tied for the most DRS among pitchers with seven. He was excellent holding runners, allowing only two stolen bases all year with five caught stealing.”
Previous Winners:
2017    Dallas Keuchel
2016    Dallas Keuchel
2015    Dallas Keuchel
2014    Dallas Keuchel
2013    R.A. Dickey                 
2012    Mark Buehrle             
2011    Mark Buehrle
2010    Mark Buehrle
2009    Mark Buehrle
2008    Kenny Rogers
2007    Johan Santana
2006    Greg Maddux
Multi-Position – Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
“When slick fielding shortstop Addison Russell went out with injury, then later a suspension, Javy Baez stepped over from his second base position without missing a beat for the Cubs. His defense is elite at both second base and shortstop. He also moves to third base and first base, whenever needed, with tremendous success. He saved five runs at second base, three at shortstop and two more at third base in 2018. He led all infielders (not counting first baseman) with 46 Good Fielding Plays in 2018. He is excellent turning double plays from both second base and shortstop. His ability to make tags on throws is legendary.”
Previous Winners (award began in 2014):
2017    Javier Baez     
2016    Javier Baez     
2015    Ender Inciarte
2014    Lorenzo Cain

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