Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Fielding Bible Awards. This marks the 15th season that BIS has honored the best defensive players in MLB. The awards are voted on by a panel of experts.
This year’s winners are:
Matt Olson joins Albert Pujols as the only first basemen to win a Fielding Bible Award in three straight seasons. Over the last three seasons, he’s well ahead of the rest of the field in the Range component of Defensive Runs Saved. And he’s the MLB leader in that time in Scoop Runs Saved (Runs Saved from handling difficult throws).
Kolten Wong becomes the first second baseman to win a Fielding Bible Award in three straight seasons. He’s now won two close votes (this year and 2018) sandwiched around a unanimous choice in 2019. Wong was the only winner from a Cardinals infield that was the best in baseball in turning ground balls and bunts into outs. His 40 Runs Saved at the position over the last three seasons are easily the most in the majors.
Javier Báez lost out to Nick Ahmed of the Diamondbacks by two points last season but won a tight vote in 2020. This is his fourth Fielding Bible Award, his first at shortstop with the other three being the Multi-Position Award. Báez finished tied for second among shortstops in the component of Defensive Runs Saved that measures range, throwing, and handling balls hit in the air. He finished tied for first in Double Play Runs Saved.
Nolan Arenado takes his fourth Fielding Bible Award, tying Adrián Beltré for the most won at the hot corner since we began handing them out in 2006. Arenado led all MLB players with 15 Runs Saved, so it’s not surprising he was a unanimous selection. No other third baseman was in double figures in Runs Saved. Arenado stood out most on balls hit to his left, making 58-of-89 plays on which he had a greater than zero chance of getting at least one out. That was 10 more than he was expected to record based on historical probabilities.
Tyler O’Neill is the fifth different left fielder to win a Fielding Bible Award in the last five years. He earned it on the strength of an MLB-leading nine Runs Saved at the position. O’Neill won with his play on balls hit to the deepest part of the ballpark. He caught 46-of-54 chances on those balls, eight more than an average left fielder.
Kevin Kiermaier wonthe closest vote, with Kiermaier and Byron Buxton finishing even in Points. Kiermaier won on our first tiebreaker, recording six first-place votes to Buxton’s five. Kiermaier won this award in a little different fashion than his previous honor in 2015. He is normally known for catching up to balls with his great closing speed. But this year, he saved six runs with his Outfield Arm compared to only two for his Range & Positioning. The six Outfield Arm Runs Saved were double that of the next-closest player.
Mookie Betts won for the fourth time in five seasons, receiving all 12 first-place votes. Betts’ four Fielding Bible Awards pass Ichiro Suzuki and Jason Heyward for most won by a right fielder since the Awards began in 2006. Betts extended his streak of seasons with at least 10 Runs Saved at an outfield position to six (one season in center field and now five straight in right field). He led in the Range & Positioning component of Runs Saved in right field, rating above average at getting outs on balls hit to both the shallowest and deepest parts of the ballpark.
Roberto Pérez became the first repeat winner at catcher since Buster Posey in 2015 and 2016. Though Pérez finished third among catchers in Defensive Runs Saved, he had positive Runs Saved totals in pitch framing, pitch blocking, and stolen base deterrence. His MLB-best three Stolen Base Runs Saved came from catching 9-of-13 basestealers and picking off another.
Max Fried led pitchers with five Defensive Runs Saved, matching the total he recorded in 2019. Fried showed both quick reflexes to snag hard-hit ground balls and the ability to get off the mound to field a weak dribbler or bunt. Additionally, Fried is tough to run on. His four pickoffs tied Tyler Anderson of the Giants for the MLB lead.
Kiké Hernández saved an MLB-high nine runs at second base, made three starts in right field, three starts in center field, two starts in left field, two starts at shortstop, and chipped in seven innings at first base. He was a major asset to the Dodgers defensively. And in winning his first Fielding Bible Award, he helped the team to the best record in the majors.
“It is important to us that we continue to present the Fielding Bible Awards, even after this pandemic-shortened season,” said Baseball Info Solutions owner, John Dewan. “I’m very pleased with the work that our panel put in covering games and evaluating the metrics, and I’m confident that the winners of our 15th annual awards are the best of 2020.”
The awards are determined by a panel of 12 baseball experts, who ranked the top five players at each defensive position (including the multi-position players left out of Gold Glove voting) on a scale from one to five. A first-place vote gets five points, second place gets four points, third place gets three points, etc. Total up the points for each player, and the player with the most points wins the award. A perfect score is 60 points.
A complete list of ballots and the history of the Fielding Bible Awards (which began in 2006) can be found online at FieldingBible.com and in The 2021 Bill James Handbook, which is available at ActaSports.com.
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