Today, just two days after the Series ended, I received this in the mail:
The Bill James Handbook is full of stats on the 2013 season: Career records for every player who appeared in a major league game as well as all sorts of features on pitching, managing, fielding, baserunning...it's really a fun book, and I'll pull out some excerpts over the next few weeks.
Oh, and you can order it here. You should. It's a lot of fun.
The first thing I do every year when I get the Bill James Handbook is check out the Fielding Bible Awards. These are fielding awards voted by a panel of twelve baseball experts. You've heard of several of them, probably: Bill James, ESPN analyst Doug Glanville, MLB Network host Brian Kenney, sportswriter Peter Gammons. The voters receive data from John Dewan's Baseball Info Solutions, which compiles and distributes baseball statistics to teams and consumers, to help them make their decisions. The two key differences between the Fielding Bible Awards and the Gold Glove Awards is that the former are voted by baseball experts who use statistics, while the latter are voted by managers and coaches. I like to compare how the more empirical vote does compared to the more intuitive one. The stats vs. scouts storyline is a false dichotomy, and the Gold Gloves include a statistical component, but I always like to see how the Gold Glove winners do in the Fielding Bible voting to get a read on how the much the two views of the game are diverging.
There is one Fielding Bible Award per position, while the Gold Gloves are awarded to a player in each league. Here's the rundown:
FIRST BASE: Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks won the Fielding Bible Award. The Gold Gloves went to Goldschmidt in the NL and Kansas City's Eric Hosmer in the AL. Hosmer finished seventh in the Fielding Bible vote, but was second in the AL to Mike Napoli (!) of the Red Sox, so we'll say the two awards agreed.
SECOND BASE: Boston's Dustin Pedroia won the Fielding Bible Award, getting 11 of 12 first place votes. He also got the AL Gold Glove. The Reds' Brandon Phillips took it in the NL. Phillips was fifth overall and third in the NL in the Fielding Bible vote, behind the Cubs' Darwin Barney and the Dodgers' Mark Ellis. It wasn't all that close between the Barney (7 seconds, 3 thirds, a fourth and fifth) and Phillips (one first, one third, everything else fourth or lower, and not named on Gammons' ballot). Let's call this one a disagreement along the lines of the typical complaint about Gold Gloves: the award went to the better hitter who makes some eye-popping plays but may not be as reliable overall.
THIRD BASE: No surprise that Oriole Manny Machado won the Fielding Bible Award unanimously. Rockies rookie Nolan Arenado was second. They won the Gold Gloves. No disagreement here.
SHORTSTOP: Brave sensation Andrelton Simmons was a unanimous Fielding Bible Award winner, and he took the Gold Glove too. J.J. Hardy won the AL Gold Glove, but he ranked behind the Rangers' Elvis Andrus, the Twins' Pedro Florimon, and the Royals' Alcides Escobar in his league. Hardy tied Troy Tulowitzki for homers by shortstops, and one of the complaints about the Gold Glove is that it goes to guys who hit well...I'm calling this a dispute.
LEFT FIELD: The Royals' Alex Gordon tied with the Pirates' Starling Marte and won the Fielding Bible Award on a tiebreaker. The Gold Gloves went to Gordon and the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez. Cargo finished third in the Fielding Bible vote. We'll call this one an agreement, but barely.
CENTER FIELD: The Brewers' Carlos Gomez got all but one first-place vote to win the Fielding Bible Award. He won a Gold Glove, along with the Orioles' Adam Jones. This is the one case where there was a wide disagreement between the voters. Jones received almost no support among the Fielding Bible voters; there were ten American League centerfielders who got a higher vote. The knock on Jones has always been that he's got a cannon for an arm and he can go over the fence to rob a homer, but he just doesn't get to as many balls as he should. Big dispute here.
RIGHT FIELD: The Diamondbacks' Gerardo Parra got all but one first place vote in capturing the Fielding Bible Award, and he won the Gold Glove too. Boston's Shane Victorino was second, and he was the AL Gold Glove. No disagreement.
CATCHER: Yadier Molina of the Cardinals was the Fielding Bible Award winner, edging out the Pirates' Russell Martin and the Royals' Salvador Perez in a close vote. The Gold Gloves went to Molina and Perez. Complete agreement.
PITCHER: I've always been skeptical of fielding awards for pitchers because the sample sizes are so small. Kyle Kendrick led the majors in pitchers' assists with 43. Andrelton Simmons got more assists every two weeks or so. Anyway, the Fielding Bible Award went to R.A. Dickey, who won a Gold Glove. The NL Gold Glove went to Adam Wainwright, who finished only seventh in the Fielding Bible voting. I suppose you could call this a dispute, but with pitchers, I'm disinclined.
So that wasn't all that controversial, was it? There was a big disagreement between the Fielding Bible votes and the Gold Glove voters for the AL center field award, and a smaller disagreement over AL shortstop and NL second baseman. Kind of a disagreement over NL left fielder. But that's it. Every Fielding Bible award winner got a Gold Glove.
It wasn't always this way. What this is saying is that the empirical view and the intuitive view are getting closer together. I'll leave it to you to figure out who's influencing whom.