Best Betts: Sox OF, Giants earn top defender honors
Boston star named Defensive Player of the Year; Giants win club honor
By Doug Miller
Leather is back in style and just in time for the long winter, and Mookie Betts is Major League Baseball's top model when it comes to excellence in the increasingly important art of defense.
Wilson Sporting Goods announced its 2016 Major League Baseball Defensive Player of the Year Awards on Friday during an hourlong special on MLB Network, and Betts, the dynamic Red Sox right fielder and American League MVP Award finalist, headlined the group by being honored as Wilson's overall individual winner, while the San Francisco Giants were honored as the top defensive team of 2016.
The Defensive Player of the Year Awards were the latest in a series of honors for defensive prowess in 2016, following up on the Rawlings Gold Gloves and leading into the upcoming Esurance MLB Awards, which have two key defensive categories -- Best Defensive Player and Best Defensive Play.
Voting for the Esurance MLB Awards, which began in September, ended Friday. The winners will be announced on MLB Network on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.
Wilson, which established this award in 2012, considers various defensive metrics in determining the nine individual and one team winners. That formula includes defensive WAR (25 percent), Defensive Runs Saved (25 percent), Inside Edge fielding ratings (20 percent), Inside Edge arm ratings (20 percent) and fielding percentage (10 percent). A different formula is used for pitchers and catchers.
Betts, 24, led all Major Leaguers in 2016 with 32 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), which paved the way for him to win the honor for right field and as the overall best defensive player in the sport. He was joined by his Boston teammate Dustin Pedroia, who won the honor at second base after tying for first place in DRS at his position in 2016 with 12.
It's not surprising that the Giants won the team honor considering they had two honorees, with shortstop Brandon Crawford and catcher Buster Posey, both of whom won Gold Gloves this year, taking home awards Friday. Crawford earned his second Wilson by leading all MLB shortstops in DRS with 20 and Ultimate Zone Rating with 21.3. Posey, meanwhile, got his first honor after a year in which he accounted for a league-leading 27.6 framing runs and had the fewest wild pitches and passed balls in the Major Leagues with 24.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs and third baseman Nolan Arenado of the Rockies added Defensive Player of the Year Awards to their 2016 Gold Glove hauls, too. Rizzo ranked first at his position in DRS (11), dWAR (0.2) and assists (125). Arenado leads all third basemen in DRS since 2013 with 84.
Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who has won the last two AL Gold Gloves at his position, was awarded his first Defensive Player of the Year Award despite missing 48 games with a broken hand. That's because he still led all Major Leaguers at his position with 25 Defensive Runs Saved in 2016 and leads the Majors with 67 DRS since the start of 2015.
And the Yankees' terrific left fielder, Brett Gardner, followed up his first Gold Glove with his first Defensive Player of the Year Award, getting the honor following a season in which he had 12 Defensive Runs Saved.
The winner at pitcher was no surprise, either. Right-hander Zack Greinke of the D-backs also added a Defensive Player of the Year Award to his recent Gold Glove honor after a season in which he ranked first in Inside Edge rating at 16.6, tied for second in DRS with 7 and was second in range factor at 2.7.
Here is the complete list of winners:
First base: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs Second base: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox Third base: Nolan Arenado, Rockies Shortstop: Brandon Crawford, Giants Left field: Brett Gardner, Yankees Center field: Kevin Kiermaier, Rays Right field: Mookie Betts, Red Sox Pitcher: Zack Greinke, D-backs Catcher: Buster Posey, Giants Defensive Team of the Year: Giants Overall 2016 Defensive Player of the Year: Betts
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.