In 2015, the voting for The Fielding Bible Awards was the most decisive in the ten-year history of voting. The twelve-person voting panel was unanimous on three different positions and only one position was as close as four points separating first and second place. At one of the unanimous positions, Kevin Kiermaier made things easy for the judges. Playing center field for the Tampa Bay Rays, Kiermaier established a new record for the most Defensive Runs Saved in one season by a single player ever recorded (42).
Every one of the ten winners of The Fielding Bible Award this year was also either the outright MLB leader in Defensive Runs Saved for his position or was tied for the lead. This proves that today's baseball experts trust and rely on the fact that the new defensive metrics can truly measure defense.
Four players were repeat award winners this year. The expert panel rewarded Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons with his third unanimous Fielding Bible Award in a row at shortstop. Former teammate Jason Heyward, who patrolled right field for the St. Louis Cardinals, won his third award in four years. Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros won his second in a row as a pitcher, and Arizona's first baseman Paul Goldschmidt won his second in the last three years.
There were six first time winners: catcher Buster Posey (San Francisco), second baseman Ian Kinsler (Detroit), third baseman Nolan Arenado (Colorado), left fielder Starling Marte (Pittsburgh), center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (Tampa Bay), and multi-position player Ender Inciarte (Arizona). For the second year, the Fielding Bible Awards recognized a player who played great defense at several different positions.
John Dewan, the owner of Baseball Info Solutions and the co-author of The Fielding Bible, Volume IV, explains how The Fielding Bible Award winners are determined: We asked our panel of twelve experts to rank 10 players at each position on a scale from one to ten. We then use the same voting technique as the Major League Baseball MVP voting. A first place vote gets 10 points, second place 9 points, third place 8 points, etc. Total up the points for each player and the player with the most points wins the award. A perfect score is 120.
Two things differentiate The Fielding Bible Awards from the Gold Glove Awards. First, unlike the Gold Gloves, which are given for both the American and the National leagues, only one player is chosen for each position in Major League Baseball. We really are trying to say, This was the best fielder in 2015 at this position in the major leagues, says Dewan. This year, seven of the winners were from the National League and three from the American League.
Second, also unlike the Gold Gloves, the voting on The Fielding Bible Awards is transparent. The voting for each position is documented in The Bill James Handbook 2016, which is published on November 1, so that fans can see which of their favorite players received votes and where they ranked against other great fielders in the MLB.
The 2015 Fielding Bible Award winners are:
First Base Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Second Base Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers
Third Base Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves
Left Field Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates
Center Field Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
Right Field Jason Heyward, St. Louis Cardinals
Catcher Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Pitcher Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros
Multi-Position Ender Inciarte, Arizona Diamondbacks
A complete record of the voting can be found in The Bill James Handbook 2016