Photos: Gavin Napier, Mark Goldman, Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire
It can sometimes be difficult to form consensus on our selections for The SIS/Fielding Bible Awards Defensive Player of the Month. That’s understandable because defense can be hard to judge in a small sample size.
Case in point, our ballot for July. Three of my colleagues filled out votes for first and second place and three candidates netted the same point totals.
So rather than break the tie with my own vote, I’ve decided not to limit the honor to one winner and instead go with three. Congratulations to Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman, Rockies center fielder Brenton Doyle and Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. who share Defensive Player of the Month for July.
All three of them are good stories.
This year is a bounceback season for Chapman after recovering from a hip injury the last couple of seasons. His 7 Runs Saved and 7 Good Fielding Plays in July were the most of any third baseman. He has 13 Runs Saved overall, 2nd only to Ryan McMahon at the position. Those 13 Runs Saved are more than he had in 2021 and 2022 combined. Plays like this one look like ones that Chapman made when he saved 28 runs in 2019. And he started off August well too.
Gold Glove plays by Matt Chapman. 👏 pic.twitter.com/qNXdOwXpef
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 2, 2023
Doyle, a rookie, led all center fielders with 6 Runs Saved in July. He also had 6 Good Fielding Plays, the 2nd-most by a center fielder for the month (Myles Straw had 9).
Coors Field is an incredibly difficult place to play half of your games in center field. In fact, no other player has had more than 6 Runs Saved in a season as a Rockies center fielder since SIS began tracking the stat in 2003. Doyle ended July with 9 Runs Saved at the position. Plays like this show that he’s a legit candidate to win a Fielding Bible Award this year.
To hear more from Doyle, check out our interview with him earlier this season on The Sports Info Solutions Baseball Podcast.
💎BRENTON DOYLE💎 pic.twitter.com/erMuDhRGuL
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) May 16, 2023
Witt has shown considerable progress in his 2nd MLB season for a rebuilding Royals team. In 2022 he finished last among shortstops with -18 Runs Saved. In July of 2023 he tied Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager as shortstop leaders with 5 Runs Saved and ended July at -1 for the season.
Also notable is that Witt had 5 Good Fielding Plays and only 2 Misplays & Errors. I mention that because in 2022, Witt’s ratio of Good Plays to Misplays & Errors was 17-to-37. He ended July of 2023 with a ratio of 19-to-23 for the season. Last year, he might’ve rushed a play like this one against Anthony Rizzo, but this past month, he played it exactly as he should have. Exactly as a Player of the Month should have.
Unbelievable double play from Michael Massey and Bobby Witt Jr. to get out of a tricky situation in the sixth inning. pic.twitter.com/hdRcQkBgJI
— Anne Rogers (@anne__rogers) July 30, 2023
This trio joins Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes (April), Orioles left fielder Austin Hays and Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (May), and Brewers right fielder Blake Perkins (June) as winners of our Player of the Month award this season.