THE 2009 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS have been officially announced after one of the closest races in the history of the award centered around the keystone sack. Second basemen Aaron Hill, Dustin Pedroia and Chase Utley finished with 76, 76 and 73 points respectively, forcing a tie-breaking procedure that awarded Hill his second Fielding Bible Award.
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. This distinction came into play this year as Jack Wilson, who split his time between Pittsburgh in the National League and Seattle in the American League, won the Fielding Bible Award at shortstop.
Joining Hill as repeat winners are Albert Pujols (four wins in the four years of the award), Carl Crawford (his third), Yadier Molina (his third), Ichiro Suzuki (two) and Franklin Gutierrez (his second, this one for center field after claiming last year’s right field award). First-time winners are Mark Buehrle, Jack Wilson and Ryan Zimmerman.
A panel of ten analysts, listed below—including Peter Gammons, Bill James, Joe Posnanski, and me—examined the 2009 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.
Here are the results of THE 2009 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS. A complete record of the voting can be found in The Bill James Handbook 2010.
FIRST BASE—ALBERT PUJOLS, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (95 POINTS)
Four Fielding Bible Awards in four years. What’s left to say?
SECOND BASE—AARON HILL, TORONTO BLUE JAYS (76)
Hill wins the tie-breaker on the strength of four first-place votes, as opposed to only one for runner-up Dustin Pedroia.
THIRD BASE—RYAN ZIMMERMAN, WASHINGTON NATIONALS (84)
Third base is a strong, deep defensive position in baseball right now, but Zimmerman has set himself apart by becoming the leader in Defensive Runs Saved over the last three years.
SHORTSTOP—JACK WILSON, PITTSBURGH PIRATES/SEATTLE MARINERS (86) Even though he split time between leagues, Wilson was the best shorstop in baseball this year, leading all shorstops in Runs Saved by a wide margin (27 compared to Brendan Ryan’s 19).
LEFT FIELD—CARL CRAWFORD, TAMPA BAY RAYS (99)
No player has ever won with a perfect record (10 first-place votes from 10 panelists), but Crawford came as close as possible, garnering nine out of ten possible first-place votes. His 99 total points is an all-time record.
CENTER FIELD—FRANKLIN GUTIERREZ, SEATTLE MARINERS (97)
Winner of the 2008 Fielding Bible Award for right field, Gutierrez moved over to center field in 2009. His 31 Runs Saved were tied with Chone Figgins for the most in baseball.
RIGHT FIELD—ICHIRO SUZUKI, SEATTLE MARINERS (93)
Hunter Pence gave Ichiro a run for his money, but Ichiro finished with 93 points to Pence’s 84. This is Ichiro’s second Fielding Bible Award.
CATCHER—YADIER MOLINA, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (96)
Everyone knows about Molina’s incredible throwing arm (well, maybe not the eight guys he picked off this year), but Molina was also the third-best bad-pitch-blocking catcher in baseball behind Carlos Ruiz and Jason Varitek.
PITCHER—MARK BUEHRLE, CHICAGO WHITE SOX (86)
Buerhle has defensive chops, but his ability to hold runners is legendary. In the last four years he’s allowed a total of 15 stolen bases, picked off 14 baserunners, and thrown over to first—only to have the runner break for second and be thrown out—16 times.
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. ! Mat Olkin is a sabermetrics consultant to major league teams;
7. Hall-of-Famer Peter Gammons serves as a studio analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and Baseball Today;
8. Rob Neyer writes about baseball for ESPN.com and appears regularly on ESPN radio and ESPNews;
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);
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 2009 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS are presented in The Bill James Handbook 2010, published on or before November 1 every year. For more information on The Fielding Bible Awards visit www.fieldingbible.com.
“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”