Photo: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire
Our next two Stat of the Weeks will focus on the top candidates for The Fielding Bible Awards, which will be announced later this month.
The Fielding Bible Awards is 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 Award Favorite: Gabriel Moreno (20)
NL Gold Glove Favorite: Moreno
AL Gold Glove Favorite: Alejandro Kirk (17)
NL Top Contenders: Patrick Bailey (13), Will Smith (12), Sean Murphy (8)
AL Top Contender: Jonah Heim (6)
Moreno pulled away from a tight field late in the season. His MLB-leading Defensive Runs Saved total was partly a product of being one of the few catchers who could throw out basestealers at a high rate this season, and his pitch blocking was excellent.
The vote might be close because Moreno had a weakness: pitch framing. Kirk was basically a match for Moreno in pitch blocking and rated considerably better in our framing metric, Strike Zone Runs Saved.
Fielding Bible Award Favorites: Carlos Santana (11), Christian Walker (9), Matt Olson (8)
NL Gold Glove Favorite: Walker
AL Gold Glove Favorites: Anthony Rizzo (3), Nathaniel Lowe (3)
NL Top Contender: Pete Alonso (6), Dominic Smith (5), Paul Goldschmidt (3)
AL Top Contender: Ryan Mountcastle (2)
We list three favorites here because we’re expecting a close vote between this trio. Santana is the surprise of the group. His defense has improved with age. This is his fourth straight season with positive Runs Saved and the 11 Runs Saved is a career high. Walker and Olson have the benefit of reputation. Walker won the Award last season. Olson has won three times previously.
In the AL, Lowe winning a Gold Glove would be notable. He was one of MLB’s most-improved defenders, going from -9 Runs Saved last season to 3 Runs Saved in 2023. His most formidable competition is Rizzo, whose season was halted in August by injury.
Fielding Bible Award Favorite: Andrés Giménez (23)
NL Gold Glove Favorites: Nico Hoerner (12), Brice Turang (12)
AL Favorite: Giménez
NL Top Contender: Ha-Seong Kim (10)
AL Top Contender: Marcus Semien (16)
Giménez was our co-Defensive Player of the Month for September and was another player who pulled away from the rest of the field for the positional lead in Defensive Runs Saved. He has a good chance to win a year after finishing second in the Fielding Bible voting to Brendan Rodgers. Semien is good competition. He leads all second basemen in Runs Saved over the last 3 seasons.
In the NL, Hoerner made the transition from full-time shortstop last season to second base in 2023 to accommodate the Cubs’ acquisition of Dansby Swanson. He’s in a tight race for the Gold Glove with an impressive rookie, Turang, and Kim, who has put up very strong defensive numbers wherever he’s played since joining the Padres in 2021.
Fielding Bible Award Favorite: Dansby Swanson (18)
NL Gold Glove Favorite: Swanson
AL Gold Glove Favorite: Anthony Volpe (15)
NL Top Contenders: Ezequiel Tovar (13), Miguel Rojas (12)
AL Top Contender: Jeremy Peña (7)
Swanson gave the Cubs exactly what they were looking for in his first year with the team. There are a lot of good candidates here, including a pair of rookies. Anthony Volpe didn’t hit much for the Yankees but put up strong overall defensive numbers. The Gold Glove Award may come down to him and last year’s winner, Peña.
Fielding Bible Award Favorite: Ke’Bryan Hayes (21)
NL Gold Glove Favorite: Hayes
AL Gold Glove Favorite: Matt Chapman (12)
NL Top Contender: Ryan McMahon (17)
AL Top Contender: Alex Bregman (5)
Even with a midseason injury, Hayes was easily the leader in Runs Saved among third basemen. Hayes came in 2nd to Nolan Arenado in last year’s Fielding Bible Awards, but this season, Hayes has him beat in Runs Saved, 21-1. It’s actually McMahon who might be Hayes’ most formidable competitor for both Fielding Bible and Gold Glove wins this season.
In the AL, Chapman looked something like his 2-time Fielding Bible Award-winning self this season. There aren’t any other Gold Glove Award-eligible 3rd basemen close to his Runs Saved total. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll win, but he has a good chance.