Sports Info Solutions decided to make the 2020 Fielding Bible Awards a global affair this year. Today we announce the winners of the inaugural NPB and KBO Fielding Bible Awards for defensive excellence.
The awards were voted on by panels of experts and Sports Info Solutions Video Scouts who spent the entire season tracking NPB and KBO games. Among the members of the expert panels were ESPN’s Karl Ravech and newspaper reporters Jeeho Yoo (Yonhap News Agency, South Korea), and Kaz Nagatsuka (Japan Times). A full list of the voting panels can be found at the end of the article.
Each voter ranked their top four players at each position in the league they covered, with 4 points awarded for a first-place vote, 3 for second and so forth. The panel also voted on a multi-position award given to a player who played less than 70% of his innings at any one position. Eligibility for voting was based on playing-time requirements.
NPB Fielding Bible Award Winners
|C||Takuya Kai||Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks|
|1B||Hiroyuki Nakajima||Yomiuri Giants|
|2B||Ryosuke Kikuchi||Hiroshima Toyo Carp|
|3B||Nobuhiro Matsuda||Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks|
|SS||Hayato Sakamoto||Yomiuri Giants|
|LF||Norichika Aoki||Tokyo Yakult Swallows|
|CF||Koji Chikamoto||Hanshin Tigers|
|RF||Taishi Ohta||Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters|
|P||Masato Morishita||Hiroshima Toyo Carp|
|Multi-Position||Ukyo Shuto||Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks|
The league champion Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks had three of the award winners – catcher Takuya Kai, third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda and multi-position standout Ukyo Shuto. Matsuda, who tied for the third base lead in Defensive Runs Saved, is the standout of the group. He has a streak of seven straight Mitsui Golden Gloves (the NPB’s Gold Glove honor) as well.
The team the Hawks beat in the Japan Series, the Yomiuri Giants, were represented in the Fielding Bible Awards by first baseman Hiroyuki Nakajima and shortstop Hayato Sakamoto.
Another standout from this group is Hiroshima Toyo Carp second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi. He finished second at the position in Defensive Runs Saved in 2020 but is the runaway leader at second base dating back to 2018.
One former major leaguer won a Fielding Bible Award, Yakult Swallows left fielder Norichika Aoki. Aoki played six seasons in MLB, most recently in 2017 when he split time between the Astros, Blue Jays, and Mets.
KBO Fielding Bible Awards, 2020
|C||Eui-ji Yang||NC Dinos|
|1B||Jin-sung Kang||NC Dinos|
|2B||Hye-sung Kim||Kiwoom Heroes|
|3B||Kyoung-min Hur||Doosan Bears|
|SS||Dixon Machado||Lotte Giants|
|LF||Yong-ho Jo||KT Wiz|
|CF||Hae-min Park||Samsung Lions|
|RF||Kun-woo Park||Doosan Bears|
|P||Eric Jokisch||Kiwoom Heroes|
|Multi-Position||Hye-sung Kim||Kiwoom Heroes|
The KBO champion NC Dinos and runner-up DooSan Bears each had two winners of the KBO Fielding Bible Awards. Catcher Eui-ji Yang and first baseman Jin-sung Kang won for the Dinos. Third baseman Kyoung-min Hur and right fielder Kun-woo Park won for the Bears.
Kiwoom Heroes second baseman Hye-Sung Kim gets a special tip of the cap for winning the Fielding Bible Award at both second base and for multi-position excellence. He split time during the season between second base, shortstop, and left field and led all second basemen in Defensive Runs Saved.
Kim’s teammate, pitcher Eric Jokisch, was one of two ex-major leaguers to win a KBO Award. He joined Lotte Giants shortstop Dixon Machado. Jokisch pitched only four games for the Cubs in 2014 but has been one of the KBO’s top pitchers since coming to South Korea at the start of the 2019 season. Machado, who previously spent parts of four seasons with the Tigers, stood out defensively for the Lotte Giants with his 30 Good Fielding Plays (as tracked by SIS Video Scouts), the most of anyone at his position.
“We are very excited that the Fielding Bible Awards have gone global,” said Sports Info Solutions owner John Dewan. “Great defensive play is a part of winning baseball at every level and you can see that in how the top teams in the NPB and KBO are represented in these awards. Congratulations to all the winners.”
Fielding Bible Award voters:
NPB: Jim Allen (JballAllen.com), Dan Casey (SIS Senior Operations Analyst/MLB Coordinator), Jason Coskrey (Japan Times), John Gibson (Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast), Kaz Nagatsuka (Japan Times), SIS Video Scouts.
KBO: Ted Baarda (SIS operations analyst), Dan Kurtz (MyKBOStats.com), Hoonki Min (SPOTV), Karl Ravech (ESPN), Jordan Shusterman (Céspedes Family BBQ), Jeeho Yoo (Yonhap News), SIS Video Scouts.