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Is Brendan Ryan the best fielder in baseball? One group believes he is

By C. Trent Rosecrans | Blogger
Is Brendan Ryan baseball's best defensive player? (US Presswire)

Sometime after the World Series, Rawlings will announce its Gold Glove winners for each league, but on Thursday the Fielding Bible Awards were announced by Baseball Info Solutions.

Like the Gold Gloves, the Fielding Bible Awards try to determine the best fielders at each position and uses a panel to make the distinctions. Rawlings uses managers, while the Fielding Bible uses a 10-person panel including Peter Gammons, Bill James, Joe Posnanski, Doug Glanville and John Dewan. The Fielding Bible Awards also only give one per position, instead of one per position per league.

So, who are the best fielders? According to those 10:

First base -- Mark Teixeira, Yankees
Second base -- Darwin Barney, Cubs
Third base -- Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Shortstop -- Brendan Ryan, Mariners
Left field -- Alex Gordon, Royals
Center field -- Mike Trout, Angels
Right field -- Jason Heyward, Braves
Catcher -- Yadier Molina, Marlins

Dewan, the author of the book, The Fielding Bible, called Ryan -- a first-time winner -- the "best defender in baseball."

From the press release, Dewan says this of Ryan, while adding a critque of the Gold Glove process:

Brendan Ryan is the best defender in baseball. Period. Make that double period. His has saved 67 runs for his teams defensively over the last three years, the highest total among all players. The next highest runs saved total is not even close (Michael Bourn, 51). Ryan led all shortstops in 2012 with 27 runs saved, led in 2011 with 18, and finished second in both 2010 and 2009 with 22 runs saved each year. Seattle recognizes the value of Ryan's defense, and that's why they keep putting him out there day after day despite his .194 batting average during the 2012 season. It will be interesting to see if the American League coaches and managers, who vote for the Gold Glove Awards, can look past Ryan's offense and base their ballot on his defense alone. This has been one of the problems with the Gold Glove voting—a certain amount of offense has always been required for what should be a defense-only award. Gold Glove voting has never allowed for a position player hitting below the Mendoza line to win a Gold Glove. Hopefully Ryan will be the first.

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