SEATTLE -- Brendan Ryan had a tough year at the plate in 2012, but the Mariners shortstop delivered in a big way in the field and it paid off with his first Fielding Bible Award on Thursday.
The Fielding Bible defensive selections are difficult to attain as only one Major League player is named at each position, as opposed to separate American and National League teams for Gold Glove honors. A panel of 10 baseball experts makes the selections, led by noted analysts Bill James, Peter Gammons and Fielding Bible author John Dewan.
Ryan earned his first selection, supplanting the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki, who had been named the top shortstop the previous two years.
Ryan hit just .194 this season, but led all shortstops in "defensive runs saved" with 27, well ahead of the 19 of runner-up Andrelton Simmons of the Braves. He also had the top Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of any shortstop at 14.7.
Also selected were catcher Yadier Molina of the Cardinals, first baseman Mark Teixeira of the Yankees, second baseman Darwin Barney of the Cubs, third baseman Adrian Beltre of the Rangers, left fielder Alex Gordon of the Royals, center fielder Mike Trout of the Angels, right fielder Jason Heyward of the Braves and pitcher Mark Buehrle of the Marlins.
Dewan helped create the Defensive Runs Saved statistic, a measurement built on how many plays a fielder makes above or below an average player at his position. Any positive number is above average and top defenders typically score in the 15-20 range for a season.
Here's what Dewan wrote about Ryan:
"Brendan Ryan is the best defender in baseball. Period. Make that double period. He has saved 67 runs for his team 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."
The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards will be released on Oct. 31.
Ryan is the ninth Mariners winner of a Fielding Bible Award since the selections began in 2006. Beltre won the third-base honors twice while with Seattle in 2006 and '08, Jack Wilson was the shortstop selection in 2009, Franklin Gutierrez was a two-time outfield selection in 2008 and '09 and Ichiro Suzuki won three outfield honors in 2006, '09 and '10.