Background of the Fielding Bible Awards

While the five volumes of The Fielding Bible put a lot of emphasis on the numbers, especially Defensive Runs Saved and the PART system (formerly the Range and Positioning System, and before that, the Plus-Minus System), we feel that visual observation and subjective judgment are still very important parts of determining the best defensive players. Also, we believe people have a right to know who is voting and all the players they are voting for. Therefore, in setting up the Fielding Bible Awards, we took the following steps:

  1. We appointed a panel of experts to vote. We have a panel of twelve experts plus three "tie-breaker" ballots. (See below.)

  2. We rate everybody in one group. The Gold Glove vote is divided into National League and American League. We make ours different by putting everybody together. Besides, is playing shortstop in the American League one thing and playing shortstop in the National League a different thing, or are they really very much the same thing? A few years back we had a great example of this decision. Without the Fielding Bible Award, Jack Wilson wins nada, because he switched leagues in mid-year. According to our panelists (and unlike the Gold Glove voters), Jack was the best fielding shortstop in baseball in 2009. Period. He deserved to be recognized for that.

  3. We use a ten-man ballot and a ten-point scale. We use a ten-man ballot. We give ten points for first place, nine points for second place, etc, down to one point for tenth place. We feel strongly that a ten-man ballot with weighted positions leads to more accurate outcomes.
    *For 2020, we used a five-man ballot and a five-point scale because of the shortened season.

  4. We defined the list of candidates. Only players who actually were regulars at the position are candidates. This eliminates the possibility of a vote going to somebody who wasn't really playing the position.

  5. We are publishing the balloting. We summarize the voting at each position, clearly identifying whom everybody voted for. Publishing the actual vote totals encourages the voters to take their votes more seriously. Also, we feel the public will have more respect for the voting if they have more insight into the process.

A perfect score is 60 points. If all 12 voters place one player first on their ballot, he scores 60. Two players had perfect scores of 60 this year: Nolan Arenado and Mookie Betts.

Here are the tie-breaker rules, which came into play in our very first year (2006), 2010, 2016, 2019, and again this year. They are applied one at a time until we have a winner:

  1. Most first-place votes wins.
  2. Count the tie-breaker ballots, highest point tally wins.
  3. Award goes to player with the higher Defensive Runs Saved.
Ballots were due three days after the end of the regular season.