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2020 Fielding Bible Awards Preview (Part 1)

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For the next two weeks, this space will feature a two-part series on the top candidates for The Fielding Bible Awards, which will be announced later this month.

The Fielding Bible Awards are voted on by a panel of 12 experts who can vote based on whatever criteria they choose, including observation and subjective judgement, as well as statistical analysis. Each position has one overall winner, different from the Gold Gloves, which has one in each league.

This week, Part I of our preview looks at catchers and infielders.

(Defensive Runs Saved totals in parentheses)


Fielding Bible Favorites: Tucker Barnhart (9), Jacob Stallings (7), Roberto Pérez (6)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Barnhart; AL Favorite: Pérez
Other Top Contenders: (NL) Austin Barnes (5) (AL) Yasmani Grandal (5)

This Fielding Bible Award is likely a showdown between the Reds catcher, Barnhart, who has a 2017 Gold Glove to his credit, and the 2019 winner, Pérez, of the Indians who again was a standout performer in shutting down basestealing, blocking pitches, and framing pitches.

Barnhart was as well. He’s made considerable strides in his pitch-framing ability. In 2017 and 2018, he cost the Reds 19 runs in getting fewer strike calls than expected. The last two seasons, he’s rated above average in that stat.

First Baseman

Fielding Bible Favorites: Josh Fuentes (8), Evan White (7), Matt Olson (5)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Anthony Rizzo (3); AL Favorite: Olson
Other Top Contenders: (NL) Eric Hosmer (3) (AL) José Abreu (4)

This one’s very much up for grabs, because though Fuentes led players in Runs Saved at the position, he did it in limited playing time, which may lead to some skepticism from the Fielding Bible Voters.

Among the full-season full-timers, White and two-time reigning Fielding Bible Award winner Matt Olson make the best cases. White rated as the best throw-scooper in the shortened season and showed good range at first base. Olson rates well in both range and in scooping throws. In fact, over the last three seasons, he rates as the game’s best in our Scoop Runs Saved stat.

The NL Gold Glove is a pick-em with Rizzo and Hosmer among the most viable candidates.

Second Baseman

Fielding Bible Favorites: Kiké Hernández (8), Nicky Lopez (8), Kolten Wong (5)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Hernández; AL Favorite : Lopez
Other Top Contenders (NL) Ketel Marte (4) (AL) Cavan Biggio (2)

There are two second basemen who pose a challenge to Wong’s two-year reign as a Fielding Bible Award recipient. Kiké Hernández of the Dodgers, also a formidable contender for the Multi-Position Award (which we’ll preview next week) and Nicky Lopez of the Royals, both got high marks for their defensive play this season.

Wong isn’t particularly flashy, but he is consistent, and could still snatch the award away from the two Runs Saved leaders.


Fielding Bible Favorites: Dansby Swanson (9), Carlos Correa (7), J.P. Crawford (7)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Swanson; AL Favorite: Correa
Other Top Contenders: (NL) Javier Báez (6), Trevor Story (5) (AL) Tim Anderson (3), Francisco Lindor (2)

Andrelton Simmons and Nick Ahmed have won the Fielding Bible Award the last seven seasons, with Simmons’ streak of six in a row interrupted by Ahmed in 2019. Neither is listed here as a favorite, but this position produced a quality list of candidates regardless.

Swanson was at or near the top of the Runs Saved leaderboard at shortstop for just about the entire season. This season stood out for his success taking away hits on balls hit to his left (up the middle). Correa is a worthy challenger and could win AL Gold Glove honors. As has been the norm for him in recent seasons, his strengths are in making the improbable play and avoiding mistakes.

Third Baseman

Fielding Bible Favorites: Nolan Arenado (15), Isiah Kiner-Falefa (9), Manny Machado (7)

NL Gold Glove Favorite: Arenado; AL Favorite: Kiner-Falefa
Other Top Contenders: (NL) Brian Anderson (4) (AL) Giovanny Urshela (5)

It’s a near-certainty that Arenado, who led all players in Runs Saved, will win at third base for the fourth time in six seasons. He made his share of outstanding plays and worked with Trevor Story to make the left side of the infield a virtually impenetrable wall for the Rockies.

The AL Gold Glove race at third base is interesting. Isiah-Kiner Falefa winning would be a good story, as his defensive game was allowed to flourish after being moved out from the catching role he’d previously been sharing. Giovanny Urshela, who has often looked the part at third without a statistical reward, had the numbers to match the optics in 2020.

Next week's Stat of the Week will preview outfielders, pitchers, and the multi-position award.

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