After one heck of a preseason, we couldn’t help but be thrilled to see a full year of Franklin Gutierrez in right field. But once the season started, “Gut” got back to his old ways of swinging at balls in the dirt and striking out more than the “happy” Pedro Cerrano. And though he finally started to string together a few solid games once the Tribe was out of the race, there was no denying what this kid could do on the other side of the coin once placed into the field.
In what is relativeley surprising news, Franklin is the recipient of this season’s “Fielding Bible Award” given to the best-fielding right fielder in Major League Baseball.
Gutierrez was chosen by a panel of ten experts, including Bill James and John Dewan, author of the award-winning book The Fielding Bible, which revolutionized fielding analysis in the major leagues, and the forthcoming The Fielding Bible—Volume II.
In granting the award to Gutierrez, Dewan wrote: “Franklin Gutierrez led all right fielders in Plus/Minus last year with +20, although he did not win a Fielding Bible Award. To show that 2007 was no fluke, however, Gutierrez led them again this year with +29. Here’s the amazing part: He did it while playing in only 88 games in right field in 2007 and only 97 games this year.”
James is obviously known as one of the best fielding analysts out there. His work is well documented among the ranks and could be the sole reason why fielding percentage is a statistic that tends to be becoming less and less relavent. A well-renowned author, the choosing of Gutierrez for this award speaks volumes. Just think of the other solid right fielders out there: Vladamir Guerrero and Ichiro Suzuki to name a few.
The other Fielding Bible winners of 2008 are Albert Pujols, Brandon Phillips, Jimmy Rollins, Adrian Beltre, Carl Crawford, Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, and Kenny Rogers. Needless to say, Gutierrez is in pretty good company. I just wish that he could start hitting like some of the guys on this list before we dump him off for someone like Mark Teahen. Because you just know that he’ll turn into a 20-HR guy the second that happens.