Ichiro wins third Fielding Bible award for defensive prowess
For the third time in the young history of the Fielding Bible Awards, Seattle right fielder Ichiro Suzuki has struck gold.
Ichiro was named winner of the Field Bible’s award for best-fielding right fielder for the third time in the five-year history of the awards.
Ichiro had to beat out Cincinnati right fielder Jay Bruce for the award, making the Mariner outfielder one of five American Leaguers to be named. Four National League players won recognition.
The awards have historically been announced before the Gold Glove awards, which are the traditional barometer for fielding excellence. However, Gold Gloves are given to nine positions in each league, making the Fielding Bible awards a little more difficult to win.
John Dewan, the author of the Fielding Bible and one of the 10 voters, said in making the announcement that “Ichiro made three home-run-saving catches last year, saving five runs for the Mariners.’’
St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina became the first player to be listed first on all 10 ballots. It’s his fourth consecutive award (he finished second by six points in the initial voting in 2006). Molina tied first baseman Albert Pujols, his Cardinals’ teammate, with four consecutive wins, but Pujols, who won from 2006-09, was dethroned by Oakland’s Daric Barton.
There was one other major upset as Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford was toppled in left field by Bret Gardner of the Yankees.
The awards, which are posted in the 2011 Bill James Handbook, broke down like this:
Catcher, Molina; first base, Barton; second base Chase Utley, Phillies; third base, Evan Longoria, Rays; shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies; left field, Gardner; center field Michael Bourn, Astros; right field, Ichiro; and pitcher, Mark Buehrle (White Sox).
Bourn displaced the Mariners’ two-time winner, Franklin Gutierrez, who was the winner in center field in 2009 after having won in right field (over Ichiro) in 2008 while playing for the Indians.
John Hickey, formerly of Seattle Post-Intelligencer, is a Senior MLB Writer for AOL FanHouse (www.fanhouse.com). Follow him on Twitter: @JHickey3.