Despite adding a "sabermetric component" to the voting in collaboration with, appropriately enough, SABR, the Rawlings Gold Gloves remain perhaps the most useless of baseball's many offseason awards, routinely handing out trophies to players who seemingly field their way to the award via good hitting, or as in the infamous case of Rafael Palmeiro in 1999, to a player who barely wore a glove at all.
For the past nine years, Baseball Info Solutions' Fielding Bible Awards, spearheaded by John Dewan, has served as an alternative to the traditional Gold Gloves. Rather than rely on a poll of managers and coaches, the Fielding Bible is voted on by a select panel. The group includes BIS video-watchers whose job is to rate every fielding play of every game. It's possible to quibble with any subjective voting system, and perhaps that method of doing things will soon be rendered moot, or at least vastly changed, by the existence of MLB Statcast information, but it is fair to say that the Fielding Bible folks have come up with a process that more closely resembles reality than one that gave Derek Jeter five awards for watching balls roll into left field.
The 2014 Fielding Bible Awards have been announced, and one advantage over the hidebound Rawlings system is readily apparent: Whereas the Gold Gloves were structured by their own rules into leaving leaving Royals' defensive standout Lorenzo Cain off the ballot (because he split time between center and right fields and the Gold Gloves have an innings-played cutoff to qualify at a given position, Cain did not exist as far as the awards are concerned -- when your rules serve to erase a player, something is malfunctioning), the BIS folks simply invented a new category to honor him, "multi-position." It remains to be seen if this will now be an annual award that goes to the Cains and Ben Zobrists of the world, or was simply a one-off to remedy an obvious oversight, but regardless, in recognizing Cain the FBAs have just taken one more step toward de-legitimizing an already risible award. It's the Darwinism of mental flexibility in action. The winners:
Multi-Position: Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
Third Base: Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics
Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves
Left Field: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
Center Field: Juan Lagares, New York Mets
Right Field: Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros