Last week we honored so many great defensive players in our announcement of The Fielding Bible Awards.
But in doing so, we were limiting our selection to one per position. We don’t want to forget about some of the other great players who didn’t win an Award.
So today is for the runner-ups, the players who finished second for each of the Fielding Bible Awards in 2023.
First Base – Carlos Santana of the Brewers led all first basemen in Defensive Runs Saved (11) and ranked 2nd in Good Fielding Plays (41). The 11 Runs Saved were a career high. Santana, not known for his defense, has finished with a positive Runs Saved in 7 of the last 8 years.
Second Base – Marcus Semien of the Rangers leads all second basemen in Runs Saved over the last 3 seasons, one better than the 2023 Fielding Bible Award winner, Andrés Giménez, though Giménez beat him out for the lead in 2023.
Third Base – Ryan McMahon of the Rockies had the misfortune of going up against the Defensive Player of the Year winner, Ke’Bryan Hayes. McMahon holds up well against every other third baseman in the sport. He ranks 2nd to Hayes in Runs Saved at the position over the last 3 seasons and ranked 2nd in 2023 too. Yes, that means he’s ahead of former Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.
Shortstop – It was a crowded field of players battling for the No. 2 spot behind unanimous winner Dansby Swanson, and it was Swanson’s division rival, Willy Adames of the Brewers, who ended up there. Adames ranked tied for 7th at the position in Runs Saved but was 4th in the component of Runs Saved that comes from turning batted balls into outs.
Left Field – Daulton Varsho of the Blue Jays was the runner-up to Steven Kwan, but just noting that would be an injustice to Varsho, who led all players with 29 Runs Saved in 2023 Unfortunately for him, he ended up with no Fielding Bible Awards to show for it because he split time between left field (where he finished 3rd in Runs Saved) and center field. He qualified for the Award in left field because he played more there but lost to Kwan in the voting. Varsho did finish 4th in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
Center Field – Brenton Doyle of the Rockies just missed beating out Kevin Kiermaier for the Award. Doyle did beat out Kiermaier for the MLB lead in Runs Saved at the position with 19. That’s remarkable given that the most Runs Saved by a Rockies center fielder in a season prior to that was 6.
Right Field – Rangers postseason star Adolis García is a defensive star too. He was the runner-up to Fernando Tatis Jr. in right field. García and Tatis tied for the MLB lead in Outfield Arm Runs Saved at the position. García leads all outfielders in that stat over the last 3 seasons.
Catcher – Patrick Bailey stepped into a big role as a rookie for the Giants and matched up well with Award winner Gabriel Moreno. Bailey tied for the MLB lead in our pitch-framing metric, Strike Zone Runs Saved.
Pitcher – Jesús Luzardo of the Marlins led all pitchers in Runs Saved in 2023 and finished No. 1 in Runs Saved from turning batted balls into outs. He also ranks 3rd in Runs Saved at the position in the last 3 seasons.
Multi-Position – Jon Berti of the Marlins didn’t quite match up to winner Mookie Betts but Berti was highly versatile. He played at least 15 games at 4 positions – shortstop (64), third base (41), left field (18), and second base (15) – and finished the season with 5 Runs Saved.