Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts has been honored by The Fielding Bible for being the best defensive right fielder in baseball.
Unlike the Gold Glove Awards that Major League Baseball hand out to the top defensive players in each league, only one player at each position earns the award regardless of which league they play in. There are ten winners each year – one for each position player, including the pitcher, plus a multi-position award for utility players. Instead of having managers and coaches vote for the winners, the Fielding Bible Awards are determined by a panel of 12 baseball writers and experts.
While the Red Sox have four players nominated as finalists on the Gold Glove ballot, Betts is the most realistic candidate to win the award. It’s no surprise then that he’s the only Red Sox player to win a Fielding Bible Award.
Betts was an obvious choice to win the award in right field for the second consecutive season. He led all outfielders with 31 defensive runs saved and a 20.5 UZR. His 366 putouts were the most by any right fielder. While he only ranked sixth with eight outfield assists, this is because most teams know better than to run on Mookie’s arm.
In case anyone forgot about his arm, Betts provided a reminder on a national stage during this year’s All-Star Game when he made a throw from the warning track to nail Nolan Arenado when the Colorado Rockies third baseman tried to stretch a single into a double.
Considering Aranado earned a Fielding Bible Award himself for his outstanding defense at third base, you know he had to have respected that throw.
Here’s the full list of Fielding Bible winners for this season.
First Base – Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Second Base – DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies
Third Base – Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Shortstop – Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels
Left Field – Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
Center Field – Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
Right Field – Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Catcher – Martin Maldonado, Los Angeles Angels
Pitcher – Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros
Multi-Position – Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
The Red Sox have Gold Glove finalists at first and second base, so the Fielding Bible Awards going to National League players provides no insight into what the chances may be for Mitch Moreland and Dustin Pedroia taking home some hardware from MLB. Keuchel won the Fielding Bible Award for pitchers despite not being among the finalists for the Gold Glove, so this also tells us nothing about Chris Sale‘s chances.
Only three of the ten recipients this year won it for the first time. This marks the second time that Betts has won a Fielding Bible Award, after being the best defensive right fielder last season. It won’t be his last. Betts has been so much better than the competition that it’s hard to imagine anyone surpassing him anytime soon.