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 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: Jose Trevino (21), Adley Rutschman (18)
NL Gold Glove Favorite: J.T. Realmuto (11); AL Favorite: Trevino
Other Top Contenders: NL: Yadier Molina (9), Tomás Nido (8); AL: Cal Raleigh (14), Christian Vazquez (11)
Trevino was obtained by the Yankees just before the season started and was one of the primary reasons the Yankees posted the most Defensive Runs Saved in the 20-year history of the stat. He led all catchers in our pitch framing stat, Strike Zone Runs Saved, and was also among the leaders in Stolen Base Runs Saved. Rutschman, recalled in May for his MLB debut, kept pace with Trevino and starred as both pitch framer and pitch blocker.
Fielding Bible Award Favorite: Christian Walker (17)
NL Gold Glove Favorite: Walker; AL Favorite: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3)
Other Top Contenders: NL: Matt Olson (6); AL: Ty France (2)
Walker ran away with the Defensive Runs Saved lead at first base, as he was 11 runs better than the next-closest first baseman. What separated Walker from his peers was how good he was on balls hit to his right. He was the only first baseman to convert more than 50% of opportunities on those balls into outs (minimum 50 plays with a >0% out probability). The AL Gold Glove is very much up for grabs. A much-improved Guerrero Jr. may have the inside track.
Fielding Bible Award Favorites: Brendan Rodgers (22), Andrés Giménez (16)
NL Gold Glove Favorite: Rodgers; AL Favorite: Giménez
Other Top Contenders NL: Gavin Lux (3), Jeff McNeil (3); AL: Marcus Semien (11), Gleyber Torres (9), Jonathan Schoop (8)
Rodgers made his way to the top of the Runs Saved leaderboard at second base with an aggressive style. He led all second base in diving plays with 19, using them to extend his range and make near-impossible plays possible. Giménez is a formidable foe on the Fielding Bible Awards ballot. His 10 sliding plays ranked second among all second basemen. His 8 jumping plays tied for the MLB lead there.
For those wondering about Tommy Edman, he qualified as a shortstop this season by way of his number of innings played there. Edman would have been a strong contender at second base if he were eligible. Look for more on him next week when we preview the multi-position award.
Fielding Bible Award Favorites: Jeremy Peña (16), Miguel Rojas (15)
NL Gold Glove Favorite: Rojas; AL Favorite: Peña
Other Top Contenders: NL: Nico Hoerner (10), Ha-Seong Kim (10), Willy Adames (9), Dansby Swanson (9); AL: Jorge Mateo (14), Andrew Velazquez (11)
This is a very crowded field without a large statistical gap between the top candidates. Peña, a rookie, had little trouble replacing Fielding Bible Award winner Carlos Correa at shortstop in 2022. He led all shortstops in the range and double play components of Runs Saved.
Rojas passed the statistical test and the eye test. He led all shortstops with 30 Good Fielding Plays and was one run shy of the shortstop lead in Runs Saved.
Fielding Bible Award Favorites: Ke’Bryan Hayes (24), Nolan Arenado (19), Ramón Urías (14)
NL Gold Glove Favorites: Hayes, Arenado; AL Favorite: Urías
Other Top Contenders: NL: Ryan McMahon (10); AL: Josh Donaldson (7)
Hayes has shown himself worthy of a second straight Fielding Bible Award. Hayes’ 24 Runs Saved were the most total Runs Saved for any player in 2022. In 2021, Hayes excelled on balls hit to his left. In 2022, it was the other direction, as he converted 75% of opportunities on balls hit to his right into outs, against an expected out rate of 62%.
Arenado, who has won four Fielding Bible Awards, is the one player who could prevent Hayes from taking a second straight. His 19 Runs Saved were a 13-run improvement from 2021.
Next week’s Stat of the Week will preview outfielders, pitchers, and the multi-position award.