A Panel of Ten Baseball Experts Including John Dewan and Bill James
Anticipate Baseball’s Gold Glove Awards with an Alternative and Announce the Winners of
THE 2006 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS
Skokie, IL, October 30—As a follow-up to John Dewan’s ground-breaking book The Fielding Bible, renowned baseball statistician and author Bill James had a suggestion: Why not assemble a “panel of experts” to vote on the best defensive players at each position prior to the announcement of the Gold Glove awards? And that’s what they’ve done. A panel of ten experts—including Dewan and James—have examined the 2006 seasons of every defensive player in Major League Baseball and then used the same voting technique as the Major League Baseball MVP voting. A first place vote got 10 points, second place 9 points, third place 8 points, etc. A perfect score is 100. Click here for a complete record of their votes.
One important distinction that differentiates THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS from most other baseball awards, such as the Gold Gloves, is that there is only one winner at each position, instead of separate winners for each league. These were the best fielders in Major League Baseball at their positions in 2006, bar none. Another key feature of the system is that it also recognizes the runners-up for each position, instead of just focusing on the winners.
The 2006 Awards
First Base – Albert Pujols, St. Louis
It’s amazing to think that the best hitter of this generation is also the best fielding player at his position. Pujols (87 points) wins in a close battle with two former Gold Glovers, Mark Teixeira (80 points) and Doug Mientkiewicz (77).
Second Base – Orlando Hudson, Arizona
Hudson (90 points) was finally recognized with a Gold Glove in 2005 after years of excellence and now wins the first Fielding Bible Award at second base. He was well ahead of the second place finisher, Oakland’s Mark Ellis (67 points).
Third Base – Adrian Beltre, Seattle
What a battle this was! Joe Crede finished third with 74 points, just four points behind the tie for first place between Beltre and Scott Rolen (78 points each). The first tie-breaker for the voting is number of first-place votes, and we had another tie with Beltre and Rolen each being named to the top spot on three of the ten ballots. The next tie-breaker is to use our three tie-breaker ballots. These are ballots from three additional experts designed for this very purpose. Our three additional voters listed Beltre and Rolen as follows:
All three listed Beltre ahead of Rolen, giving Beltre the award.
Shortstop – Adam Everett, Houston
It was a landslide for Everett as he garnered all but two first-place votes from our panel. He received second place votes on the other two ballots, for a near-perfect point total of 98 points. Omar Vizquel was a distant second (61 points).
Left Field – Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay
Crawford was no surprise. Although he has never won a Gold Glove, his excellent defense is well known. Gold Gloves are usually given to center fielders. Our award system recognizes each outfield position separately, and Crawford finally gets his just reward. Crawford earned 87 points placing him ahead of the runner-up, Toronto’s Reed Johnson (71 points).
Center Field – Carlos Beltran, New York Mets
I thought Andruw Jones would win this, and he did come in second with 78 points. But Beltran was the clear-cut winner with 90 points.
Right Field – Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle
As expected, Ichiro (95 points) easily won the first Fielding Bible Award in right field. It may be his last as a right fielder if he continues to play center field as he did for the last six weeks of the 2006 season. The competition will be much tougher in center. Suzuki is the second defender from Seattle to win a Fielding Bible award, while Toronto places another outfielder in second place with the 69 points earned by right-fielder Alexis Rios.
Cather – Ivan Rodriguez, Detroit
Rodriguez (96 points) and Yadier Molina (90) were named first and second on 11 of our 13 ballots. Rodriguez has always been known for his great arm, and 2006 was no exception as he threw out 46% of the runners who tried to steal on him, the highest percentage among all regulars. Miguel Oliva (53 points) was a distant third.
Pitcher – Greg Maddux, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers
Maddux (78 points) has won 15 of the last 16 National League Gold Gloves and now wins the first Fielding Bible Award at pitcher. Kenny Rogers has won four of the last six AL Gold Gloves and was a close second for the Fielding Bible Award with 72 points. Over the last three years, Rogers and Maddux also rank as the two best fielders at pitcher in the Fielding Bible plus/minus system, with scores of +22 and +21 respectively. Interestingly, among the eight fielding positions with everyday players, four winners were from the American League and four were National Leaguers. The National League gets the overall nod with the winner at the ninth position, pitcher.