Friday, October 31, 2008

Fielding Bible Awards

Fielding statistics have come a long way over the past couple of decades and have now reached the point where they are fairly useful evaluation tools. Certainly the Probabilistic Model of Range (PMR) is better than range factor which in turn tells us more than fielding percentage. However, there are still many gaps. Fielding stats like PMR and Zone Rating don’t work as well as hitting stats such as On Base Percentage and slugging Percentage. Questions arise because systems such as Zone Rating, Ultimate Zone rating and PMR which are supposed to measure the same thing (how efficiently players turn balls in play into outs) sometimes disagree substantially on individual players.

It’s still clear that a fair amount of subjective input and interpretation of available data is needed to accurately evaluate fielding performance. With this in mind, John Dewan, owner of Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) and long time leader in the sabermetric community, has developed an interesting approach to the evaluation of fielding performance. Rather than relying solely on statistics, he put together a “panel of experts” to select the best fielders at each position. He calls it the
The fielding Bible Awards as he considers them a complement to the statistics in The Fielding Bible.

The way the Fielding Bible Awards work is each of 10 voters ranks 10 players at each position. A player gets 10 points for a first place vote, 9 points for a second place vote, etc. Among the voters were several prominent sabermetricians including Dewan, Bill James and Rob Neyer, BIS video scouts who studied every single game of the 2006 season in great detail, advisors employed by Major League baseball teams and knowledgable fans who participated in the Tom Tango Fan Scouting Report.

You can see the final results including how each panelist voted (something you don’t see in the Gold Glove award voting) at The Fielding Bible site. The top vote getters at each position were:

C. Yadier Molina
1B. Albert Pujols
2B. Brandon Phillips
SS. Jimmy Rollins
3B. Adrian Beltre
LF. Carlos Crawford
CF. Carlos Beltran
RF. Franklin Gutierrez
P. Kenny Rogers

Other Tigers on the list included:

2B. Placido Polanco - 6th
CF. Curtis Granderson - 11th

Unfortunately, there were a lot of Tigers who received no votes (not even a 10th place vote) from anybody. This includes, Carlos Guillen, Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Edgar Renteria and Marcus Thames. This highlights the Tigers need to improve their fielding this off-season.


  1. Interesting list. I really dislike the Crawford selection. I've been down to Tampa Rays cames in each of the past three seasons and Crawford always gets poor reads/jumps on balls. His speed makes up for this but one really has to question why the Rays have gone through a number of CF over the years
    (past two include Baldelli, D. Young, BJ Upton), while Crawford stays in left.

  2. The numbers seem to back up Crawford's selection this year so he must be overcoming his shortcomings with speed. You are probably right that Crawford not playing center field is evidence that he is not a great fielder. You would think that someone with speed would be in center.

  3. You are a very smart person!



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