First Base – Daric Barton, Oakland
For the first time, Albert Pujols didn’t win this award. Daric Barton led all major league first basemen saving 20 runs defensively for the Oakland A’s in 2010. The runner-up, Ike Davis of the Mets, was a distant second with 13 runs saved. Pujols was an average first baseman in 2010, neither saving nor costing his team any runs with his play at first base.
Second Base – Chase Utley, Philadelphia
Finally! After being atop the three-year Runs Saved leader board in each of the last four years, Chase Utley wins his first Fielding Bible Award in 2010. Utley has saved 60 runs with his defense for the Phillies in the last three years. Far behind him are Mark Ellis (33), Dustin Pedroia (30) and Aaron Hill (26). In the voting, Orlando Hudson gave Chase a run for his money, falling just six points short (80 points compared to 86 for Utley). Hudson did have three more runs saved than Utley in 2010 (17 to 14), but Chase’s consistency over many years was rewarded by the voters. Now the question is, can Utley win his first Gold Glove award?
Third Base – Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
This was our closest race. Evan Longoria prevented Ryan Zimmerman from winning his second consecutive award by a single point in the voting (92 to 91). Adrian Beltre continued his stellar defense after moving to the Red Sox and finished third in the voting. The leader in defensive runs saved, Chase Headley (21 runs saved), finished fourth. Longoria saved 13 runs for the 2010 Rays, giving him a total of 30 runs saved for the past two seasons.
Shortstop – Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
Troy Tulowitzki’s bat received a lot of attention this year as he led the Rockies in another near-miraculous end-of-season comeback. His 15 homers in the month of September was just short of Babe Ruth and Albert Belle’s record of 17. Now his glove gets some attention as well. It’s not the first time. In his rookie season in 2007, Tulo dazzled in the field, saving 30 runs for the Rockies with his glove and arm. He won the Fielding Bible Award that year. Now, in 2010, he saved 16 runs for the Rockies defensively and wins his second award.
Left Field – Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
An upset win for Brett Gardner and the Yankees. Gardner unseated three-time Fielding Bible Award winner Carl Crawford, giving the Yankees a victory over their season-long rival, the Tampa Bay Rays. Having a speedy and skillful player like Gardner cover the spacious left-field territory in Yankee Stadium is a real advantage for the Bronx Bombers. The voters recognized this important element and the voting wasn’t that close (96 points for Gardner to 86 points for runner-up Crawford).
Center Field – Michael Bourn, Houston
He is one of the fastest players in the game, and that pays off in spades patrolling center field for the Houston Astros. Michael Bourn won his first Fielding Bible Award for his spectacular defense in 2010. His defense saved 16 runs for the Astros, despite the fact that he missed 20-25 games with injury. Bourn topped two-time Fielding Bible Award winner Franklin Gutierrez by a comfortable margin in the voting (91 to 75).
Right Field – Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle
Ichiro wins his third award in 2010. He saved 12 runs defensively for the 2010 Mariners. His three-year total of 39 runs saved ties him with Hunter Pence for the highest total in that time period. Ichiro made three home-run-saving catches last year, saving five runs for the Mariners.
Catcher – Yadier Molina, St. Louis
It was unanimous—for the first time in the five-year history of the Fielding Bible Awards. Yadier Molina was listed first on all ten ballots for a total of 100 points, the highest possible total in the voting. It’s his fourth consecutive award, and nearly his fifth as he lost in 2006 by only six points. There is no question about it: Yadier is the best defensive catcher in all of baseball and it’s not even close. He saved 12 runs for the Cardinals, based on the runs saved system presented in this book, but when you factor in Misplays and Good Plays that Baseball Info Solutions tracks, he saved an additional 8 runs, the highest total for any player in all of baseball.
Pitcher – Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox
Mark Buehrle won his second consecutive Fielding Bible Award as a pitcher, and it is well deserved. He made a statement with a defensive play that may have been the best fielding play of the entire season…and he did it on opening day. His back-turned-to-the-base, through-his-legs glove-flip from foul territory nipped a surprised Lou Marson at the first-base bag. But it’s Buehrle’s control of the running game that puts him head and shoulders over his competition. He only allowed six of 12 would-be base thieves to successfully steal against him, and he picked off six additional runners last year. That was good for five of his total of eight defensive runs saved for the 2010 White Sox.