MLB Network to air Defensive Awards show
Winners of the 2015 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Awards will be announced at 6 p.m. ET today as part of a one-hour special on MLB Network, amid the ongoing rollout of key individual awards in Major League Baseball.
These awards recognize the best defensive player at each position regardless of league, best defensive team and best overall defensive player. Winners since 2012 are determined using a formula that combines traditional defensive stats with advanced metrics, as well as the data logged by baseball experts working for the scouting service Inside Edge.
Speaking of outstanding defense, voting continues through Friday at MLB.com/awards to help decide the MLB Esurance Awards, and that includes such categories as Best Defensive Player and Best Defensive Play. Awards season covers everything this time, even the Best Fan Catch.
Wilson is the official glove of MLB. Last year's winners of the sponsor's Defensive Player of the Year Awards were pitcher Johnny Cueto, catcher Russell Martin, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, second baseman Ian Kinsler, third baseman Juan Uribe, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, left fielder Alex Gordon, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and right fielder Jason Heyward. Cain, Martin and Simmons are all candidates to win at their position for a third year in a row.
Heyward was named overall MLB Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 while with the Braves, after having committed just one error in the 2013-14 seasons combined. Starting nearly the same number of games in the outfield for the Cardinals (144 instead of 148 in '14), Heyward was viewed as a big upgrade in right field for St. Louis, and his defense will be a key selling point on the free-agent market. Nevertheless, his defensive metrics tapered slightly in 2015, and an overall repeat as the game's best defensive player seems doubtful.
Sabermetrics are a key element in these awards, and Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier would have a big edge if one goes by Defensive WAR on baseball-reference.com. In addition to his constant supply of highlights and Statcast™ mentions, Kiermaier had a 5.0 dWAR, followed by Simmons (3.5), Brandon Crawford of the Giants (2.9) and Nick Ahmed of the D-backs and Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays (2.8 each).
The Reds were the Best Defensive Team last year, but in 2015, Cincinnati was middle of the pack in major team fielding categories. The Blue Jays and Giants tied for the MLB lead this season with a .708 Defensive Efficiency Ratio, which rates a team's defensive outs recorded in defensive opportunities. That obviously is just one of many ways to measure, as is best team fielding percentage, led by the Dodgers at .988.
The Defensive Player of the Year Awards show will be hosted by Lauren Shehadi and Eric Byrnes. It will be followed by a one-hour MLB Tonight, then the awards show will re-air after that at 8 p.m. ET.