Game's top glove to catch Gibby with fans' votes
Impressive group of fielders nominated for Defensive Player of the Year
This offseason's early defensive awards have been handed out to a mix of some familiar faces and a few new ones. A few human highlight reels kept on playing, and others joined the fray for what could become the first of many honors.
On one hand, there's Orioles third baseman Manny Machado and Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, both of whom won their first Gold Glove and Fielding Bible awards. On the other, there's Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who just won his sixth straight National League Gold Glove Award
"This guy has the ability to go out there and do some things that nobody has ever done," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Molina. "And I think he realizes that and it's pretty unique."
Molina won the GIBBY in 2012, giving him a chance to become the first player to win it in consecutive years since Jim Edmonds did so in 2003-04. But he's up against some stiff competition, including young infielders Machado and Simmons, who are coming off two of the best defensive seasons in history according to the advanced metrics.
There's plenty of room for both the old and new school when handing out those awards, as the Fielding Bible picks a winner at each position and the Gold Gloves do the same for each league. That's not the case with the GIBBYs, however, as there will only be one Defensive Player of the Year -- and fans can help decide who it's going to be in 2013.
The other nominees are Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias, Mets center fielder Juan Lagares, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez, Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney, D-backs right fielder Gerardo Parra and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 2013 GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year's GIBBY Awards feature nominees in 22 categories. Individual honors will go to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year's best starting pitcher, hitter, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout hitter, breakout pitcher, comeback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason performer.
GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's top play, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, Cut4 topic, regular-season moment and postseason moment, from MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
In the past five years, fans have cast more than 50 million votes across the various GIBBY categories, none of which was restricted to individual League affiliation. Fan voting runs through Dec. 1.
Winners will be presented their GIBBY trophies at the MLB.com Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards extravaganza during the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
Some of the nominees have already earned some hardware this offseason due to their defensive prowess. Widely regarded as the game's best catcher, Molina received his sixth Fielding Bible Award. Machado became the first Orioles third baseman to win a Gold Glove since Brooks Robinson in 1975, as he was worth 32 runs above the average player according to Total Zone Runs.
Simmons has played in only 206 Major League games, but he put together an historically great season on defense. The 41 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) credited to Simmons this year ranks as the highest total recorded by a shortstop since the metric was first used in 2003 and nearly 30 more than any other big-league shortstop in 2013.
"It's an honor," Simmons said when accepting his Gold Glove Award on ESPN2. "I've always been praised growing up. But to do it on the biggest stage is the biggest of honors."
Pedroia also won both a Gold Glove and Fielding Bible Award after arguably his finest defensive season, leading all second basemen with 15 DRS and finished second among AL second baseman with a .993 fielding percentage. His teammate, Victorino, recently won his fourth Gold Glove Award after leading the AL with 24 DRS in right field.
Iglesias and Lagares didn't factor into the early awards voting, but both turned out to be pleasant surprises at their respective positions this season. Gomez and Parra, meanwhile, both won Fielding Bible and NL Gold Glove Awards, with Gomez becoming the first Milwaukee player to earn a Gold Glove since Robin Yount did so as a shortstop in 1982.
There's an argument to be made for two NL second basemen, too. Phillips won his fourth Gold Glove Award in a close race against Barney. The Cubs second baseman had the more impressive fielding percentage and advanced statistics, but Phillips has become known for making exciting plays and his overall excellent defensive work.
Rounding out the field are Longoria, Arenado and Tulowitzki. Longoria was an AL Gold Glove Award finalist at third base, where he logged a 14.6 Ultimate Zone Rating and .972 fielding percentage and saved 12 runs. Arenado became only the 10th rookie to win a Gold Glove, and he credited his teammate Tulowitzki -- a two-time Gold Glove winner himself -- for his success.
"He's helped me a lot along the way, so that's pretty nice of him," Arenado said recently. "He's done so much for me."