The Fielding Bible Awards were announced yesterday, and these are always interesting. If you don’t know what the FBAs are, well, here’s Bill James’ description of the voting process:
We asked a panel of experts to complete a ten-man ballot ranking the defensive ability of players from 1 to 10. We show the ranks in the tables below. We then awarded points in the same way as Major League BaseballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s MVP voting: ten points for a first place vote, nine for second, etc., down to one point for tenth place. We cover all nine positions, looking at only their fielding work for the 2010 season. Non-pitchers are only eligible if they played at least 500 innings. Pitchers require a minimum of 100 innings pitched.
No Reds won the award at their particular position, but several were near the top. First, the winners:
Catcher: Yadier Molina
1st Base: Daric Barton
2nd Base: Chase Utley
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki
3rd Base: Evan Longoria
Left Field: Brett Gardner
Center Field: Michael Bourn
Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki
Jay Bruce, as you might expect, was rated as the second-best RF, just behind Ichiro. Bruce also finished second in the voting for Tom Tango’s fan poll, which I always find to be a good barometer of defensive talent. It won’t be long until Bruce is number one at this position for good.
At 2B, Brandon Phillips finished fourth overall, although he was first in the Tango poll. Similarly, Scott Rolen was fifth, but finished second in the Tango poll.
Bronson Arroyo was fifth among pitchers. We’ve been very complimentary of Arroyo around these parts for many reasons, but I don’t know that we’ve ever singled out his defense.
Finally, Joey Votto was ninth among first basemen.
A couple other Reds received votes –or a single vote, in the case of Orlando Cabrera, who was listed tenth on one voter’s ballot. Drew Stubbs received 3 points, which was tied for 20th with Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen.
I’m a little surprised that Ryan Hanigan didn’t get some modicum of support at catcher. I’m not surprised that Jonny Gomes’ name didn’t show up anywhere, although I expect Gomes to sweep to victory in the Mohawk Bible Awards, which will be announced next week.
A couple of thoughts come to mind: I would expect Bruce to be number one in the near future, as noted above. I would further expect Stubbs to shoot up the rankings in the next couple of years. He’s quick and his defensive fundamentals are good. As he gets more comfortable, we should see elite defense from him in CF. Votto and Hanigan, as well, may factor into the voting in future years.
On the flip side, Rolen is likely on his slow decline toward the bottom of the rankings, and I imagine we’ll never see Cabrera get a single vote again. That’s what age does to old ballplayers.
Make of all this what you will, but I’m certainly more comfortable in these results than I am in the Gold Glove balloting.