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The Fielding Bible Awards 2021

Seven of the 10 winners had previously won the Award, including Javier Báez who was a first-time winner at shortstop after taking the Multi-Position honor in three previous seasons.

The three newcomers are Cardinals left fielder Tyler O'Neill, Braves pitcher Max Fried, and Dodgers multi-position standout Kiké Hernández.

First baseman Matt Olson and second baseman Kolten Wong each won for the third straight year. Nolan Arenado, who had a dominant season at third base, won for the fourth time. Kevin Kiermaier won his second Award in center field. Mookie Betts won his fourth in right field.

Close votes were a big part of this year's voting, not surprising given how difficult it is to make determinations on players in a 60-game season. Kiermaier won on a tiebreaker, just beating another previous winner, Byron Buxton. Wong and Báez each won narrowly.

Congratulations to the winners!

The Fielding Bible Awards are determined by a 12-person expert voting panel. The panel awards 10 winners each year, one at each position plus an additional award that goes to the best defensive multi-position player.

Here's a refresher on how the awards are determined. We asked our panel to rank 5 players at each position on a scale from 1 to 5. This was a one-year temporary change from the usual 10-player ballot, resulting from the shortened season (we hope to return to 10 players in 2021). A first-place vote gets 5 points, second place 4 points, third place 3 points etc. Total up the points for each player and the player with the most points wins the award at that position. A perfect score is 60 points.

Here are the Fielding Bible Awards for the 2020 season.

First Base – Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics

Olson won his third straight Fielding Bible Award despite slipping to third place in Defensive Runs Saved with five in 2020.

But Olson is well-rounded, and that's what carried him to the honor. Over the last three seasons, he's well ahead of the rest of the field in the Range component of DRS. And he's the MLB leader in that time in Scoop Runs Saved (Runs Saved from handling difficult throws).

Olson joined Albert Pujols as the only first basemen to win a Fielding Bible Award in three straight seasons. Pujols, who has won five, did it in the first four years of the award, from 2006 to 2009.

Previous Winners:
2019 Matt Olson 2014 Adrián González 2009 Albert Pujols
2018 Matt Olson 2013 Paul Goldschmidt 2008 Albert Pujols
2017 Paul Goldschmidt 2012 Mark Teixeira 2007 Albert Pujols
2016 Anthony Rizzo 2011 Albert Pujols 2006 Albert Pujols
2015 Paul Goldschmidt 2010 Daric Barton

Second Base – Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals

Wong becomes the first second baseman to win a Fielding Bible Award in three straight seasons. He's now won two close votes (this year and 2018) sandwiched around a unanimous choice in 2019.

Wong was the only winner from a Cardinals infield that was the best in baseball in turning ground balls and bunts into outs. It's the second straight year that the team has done that. Wong wasn't flashy, but he finished with five Defensive Runs Saved. His 40 Runs Saved at the position over the last three seasons are easily the most in the majors.

Previous Winners:
2019 Kolten Wong 2014 Dustin Pedroia 2009 Aaron Hill
2018 Kolten Wong 2013 Dustin Pedroia 2008 Brandon Phillips
2017 DJ LeMahieu 2012 Darwin Barney 2007 Aaron Hill
2016 Dustin Pedroia 2011 Dustin Pedroia 2006 Orlando Hudson
2015 Ian Kinsler 2010 Chase Utley

Third Base – Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

After two years of losing out to Matt Chapman, Arenado takes his fourth Fielding Bible Award, tying Adrián Beltré for the most won at the hot corner since we began handing them out in 2006.

Arenado led all MLB players with 15 Runs Saved. No other third baseman was in double figures. Arenado stood out most on balls hit to his left, making 58-of-89 plays on which he had a greater-than zero chance of getting at least one out. That was 10 more than he was expected to record based on historical probabilities.

Previous Winners:
2019 Matt Chapman 2014 Josh Donaldson 2009 Ryan Zimmerman
2018 Matt Chapman 2013 Manny Machado 2008 Adrian Beltre
2017 Nolan Arenado 2012 Adrian Beltre 2007 Pedro Feliz
2016 Nolan Arenado 2011 Adrian Beltre 2006 Adrian Beltre
2015 Nolan Arenado 2010 Evan Longoria

Shortstop – Javier Báez, Chicago Cubs

Báez lost out to Nick Ahmed of the Diamondbacks by two points last season but won a tight vote in 2020. This is his fourth Fielding Bible Award, his first at shortstop with the other three being the Multi-Position Award.

Báez finished tied for second among shortstops in the component of Defensive Runs Saved that measures range, throwing, and handling balls hit in the air. He finished tied for first in Double Play Runs Saved. His strength was in taking away base hits on balls hit up the middle. He made 67-of-111 such plays in which he had a greater-than-zero chance to record an out, six plays more than his expected total.

Previous Winners:
2019 Nick Ahmed 2014 Andrelton Simmons 2009 Jack Wilson
2018 Andrelton Simmons 2013 Andrelton Simmons 2008 Jimmy Rollins
2017 Andrelton Simmons 2012 Brendan Ryan 2007 Troy Tulowitzki
2016 Andrelton Simmons 2011 Troy Tulowitzki 2006 Adam Everett
2015 Andrelton Simmons 2010 Troy Tulowitzki

Left Field – Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals

O'Neill is the fifth different left fielder to win a Fielding Bible Award in the last five years. He earned it on the strength of an MLB-leading nine Runs Saved at the position. O'Neill won with his play on balls hit to the deepest part of the ballpark. He caught 46-of-54 chances on those balls, eight more than an average left fielder.

O'Neill can also thank the Cardinals coaching staff for positioning him well. His top three plays made in terms of plays saved value were all on balls sliced down the left field line that O'Neill was able to track down thanks to being in a good spot to get to the ball at the time of the pitch.

Previous Winners:
2019 David Peralta 2014 Alex Gordon 2009 Carl Crawford
2018 Alex Gordon 2013 Alex Gordon 2008 Carl Crawford
2017 Brett Gardner 2012 Alex Gordon 2006 Carl Crawford
2016 Starling Marte 2011 Brett Gardner
2015 Starling Marte 2010 Brett Gardner 2007 Eric Byrnes

Center Field – Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays

This was the closest vote, with Kiermaier and Byron Buxton finishing even in Points. Kiermaier won on our first tiebreaker, recording six first-place votes to Buxton's five.

Kiermaier won this award in a little different fashion than his previous honor in 2015. He is normally known for catching up to balls with his great closing speed. But this year, he saved six runs for his Outfield Arm compared to only two for his Range & Positioning. The six Outfield Arm Runs Saved were double that of the next-closest player, with six also representing his MLB-leading center field assist total for 2020.

Previous Winners:
2019 Lorenzo Cain 2014 Juan Lagares 2009 Franklin Gutierrez
2018 Lorenzo Cain 2013 Carlos Gomez 2008 Carlos Beltran
2017 Byron Buxton 2012 Mike Trout 2007 Andruw Jones
2016 Kevin Pillar 2011 Austin Jackson 2006 Carlos Beltran
2015 Kevin Kiermaier 2010 Michael Bourn

Right Field – Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers

Betts won for the fourth time in five seasons, making his first season with the Dodgers a highly successful one. Betts' four Fielding Bible Awards pass Ichiro Suzuki and Jason Heyward for most won by a right fielder since the Awards began in 2006.

Betts extended his streak of seasons with at least 10 Runs Saved at an outfield position to six (one season in center field and now five straight in right field). He led in the Range & Positioning component of Runs Saved in right field, rating above average at getting outs on balls hit to both the shallowest and deepest parts of the ballpark.

Previous Winners:
2019 Cody Bellinger 2014 Jason Heyward 2009 Ichiro Suzuki
2018 Mookie Betts 2013 Gerardo Parra 2008 Franklin Gutierrez
2017 Mookie Betts 2012 Jason Heyward 2007 Alex Rios
2016 Mookie Betts 2011 Justin Upton 2006 Ichiro Suzuki
2015 Jason Heyward 2010 Ichiro Suzuki

Catcher – Roberto Pérez, Cleveland Indians

In last year's Fielding Bible Awards, we said that Pérez might have some staying power at catcher. That turned out to be prescient. He became the first repeat winner at the position since Buster Posey in 2015 and 2016. Though Pérez finished third among catchers in Defensive Runs Saved, he had positive Runs Saved totals in pitch framing, pitch blocking, and stolen base deterrence. His MLB-best three Stolen Base Runs Saved came from catching 9-of-13 basestealers and picking off another.

If Pérez wins again next year, he would become the second catcher to do so in three straight seasons. Fellow Puerto Rico native Yadier Molina won four straight from 2007 to 2010.

Previous Winners:
2019 Roberto Pérez 2014 Jonathan Lucroy 2009 Yadier Molina
2018 Jeff Mathis 2013 Yadier Molina 2008 Yadier Molina
2017 Martin Maldonado 2012 Yadier Molina 2007 Yadier Molina
2016 Buster Posey 2011 Matt Wieters 2006 Ivan Rodriguez
2015 Buster Posey 2010 Yadier Molina

Pitcher – Max Fried, Atlanta Braves

Fried led pitchers with five Defensive Runs Saved, matching the total he recorded in 2019. Fried showed both quick reflexes to snag hard-hit ground balls and the ability to get off the mound to field a weak dribbler or bunt. His top plays are reminiscent of those made by past winners Dallas Keuchel (a former Fried teammate) and Zack Greinke.

Additionally, Fried is tough to run on. His four pickoffs tied Tyler Anderson of the Giants for the MLB lead. The completeness of his defensive game is what made him award worthy.

Previous Winners:
2019 Zack Greinke 2014 Dallas Keuchel 2009 Mark Buehrle
2018 Zack Greinke 2013 R.A. Dickey 2008 Kenny Rogers
2017 Dallas Keuchel 2012 Mark Buehrle 2007 Johan Santana
2016 Dallas Keuchel 2011 Mark Buehrle 2006 Greg Maddux
2015 Dallas Keuchel 2010 Mark Buehrle

Multi-Position – Kiké Hernández, Los Angeles Dodgers

When we asked Hernández how many gloves he owned during his appearance on the SIS Baseball Podcast, he said "Too many," before rattling off a long list of practice mitts and gamers at the different positions he plays.

He needs them all.

In addition to making 22 starts at second base, where he saved an MLB-best nine runs, Hernández made three starts in right field, three starts in center field, two starts in left field, two starts at shortstop, as well as seven innings at first base. He was a major asset to the Dodgers defensively at each of those spots. And in winning his first Fielding Bible Award, he helped the team to the best record in the majors.

Previous Winners:
2019 Cody Bellinger 2017 Javier Baez 2015 Ender Inciarte
2018 Javier Baez 2016 Javier Baez 2014 Lorenzo Cain