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2013 Tony Awards: Defensive Player of the Year

2013 Tony Awards: Defensive Player of the Year
October 22, 2013
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Today we continue with the IBI’s year-end awards with the announcement of the Defensive Player of the Year.

In the coming days the Biggest Disappointment, Biggest Breakthrough, Reliever of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and All-Tony Team will be announced.

Here are the 2013 Tony Awards so far:

Rookie of the Year: Clint Frazier (OF)

The Defensive Player of the Year award is given to the Indians minor leaguer who had the best season defensively. This is a new award I added in 2010 and one I think that is very deserving to acknowledge some of the great defensive play by some players who may or may not have had a good season at the plate.  You’ll have to cut some major slack here as the candidates for the award were determined by a combination of their basic defensive stats (fielding percentage, etc) and perception (how they actually looked).

As always, prospect standing is not considered with these awards as they are 100% awarded based on performance. Please keep that in mind as just because a guy is or is not listed does not mean anything from a “prospect” standing. These awards are simply for fun to hand out at the end of the year. Also, the Cleveland Indians in no way whatsoever had any input in these awards.

Onto the nominees...

Defensive Player of the Year Nominees

(in alphabetical order)

Jesus Aguilar (First baseman – Akron)
.988 PCT, 128 games, 1053 putouts, 84 assists, 14 errors, 1151 total chances, 112 double plays

Aguilar was in this group last year which shows his consistency defensively at least from a numbers standpoint. Judging defense through the lens of statistics is often tough to do and the subjective viewpoint has more emphasis, but he’s really turned into a solid defender at first base. He ranked 1st in the Eastern League in games played at first base (128), most assists (84) and most errors (14).

Matt Carson (Outfielder – Columbus)
.988 PCT, 103 games, 227 putouts, 19 assists, 3 errors, 249 total chances, 4 double plays

Carson came out of nowhere and became a late season contributor for the Indians because of his versatility in the outfield, his defense, and an ability to run a little bit. He’s not a high level defensive outfielder by any stretch, but he has a strong arm, is versatile and knows his role. He led the International League in outfield assists (19).

Grant Fink (First baseman – AZL Indians)
.990 PCT, 38 games, 292 putouts, 20 assists, 3 errors, 315 total chances, 30 double plays

Fink played some first base and third base in his first exposure to the Indians this season at rookie level Arizona and Instructional League. His ability to handle both positions and play them well creates value for him going forward. He ranked 1st amount all first basemen in the Arizona League in fielding percentage (.990).

Eric Haase (Catcher – Lake County)
Fielding: .974 PCT, 73 G, 474 putouts, 93 assists, 15 errors, 582 total chances, 3 double plays, 12 passed balls
Throwing: 49-for-137 (.358 PCT)

Haase is a guy that continues to improve every year and has not reached his potential both as a receiver and thrower. He shows a lot of athleticism behind the plate, a strong arm and has the upside to be a plus defender back there. When you combine that with the potential of his bat, you have the makings of a nice catching prospect. He ranked 5th among all catchers in the Eastern League in caught stealing percentage (.358).

Tyler Holt (Outfielder – Akron)
.994 PCT, 132 games, 302 putouts, 6 assists, 2 errors, 310 total chances, 1 double play

Holt showcased some great ability in center field this past season and really did a nice job in the spacious confines of Canal Park where there is a lot of room for balls to fall from left center to right center.  Akron coaches, Indians personnel, and people from others teams raved about his defense this season. He led the Eastern League in games played in the outfield (132), most total chances (310) and most putouts (302).

Tyler Naquin (Outfielder – Akron/Carolina)
.987 PCT, 120 games, 291 putouts, 11 assists, 4 errors, 306 total chances, 3 double plays

In his first full season in center field Naquin hushed a lot of critics that questioned the Indians decision to move him to center field. He proved that he not only can play center field, but that it is a position he can thrive at and belongs. He showed no fear going after balls near the wall and really showed a great knack for coming in on balls, and of course, in the few attempts runners made to run on him he showcased a very strong, accurate arm.

Roberto Perez (Catcher – Akron/Columbus)
Fielding: .989 PCT, 98 G, 888 putouts, 72 assists, 9 errors, 969 total chances, 10 double plays, 6 passed balls
Throwing: 37-for-106 (.349 PCT)

Perez has been a mainstay in this group since its inception in 2010. While his bat leaves something to be desired, the defense has always been his hallmark and 2013 was no exception. Even though he took a slight step back with his defense and throwing this past season he is still one of the best defensive catchers in all of the minors.

Jerrud Sabourin (First baseman – Carolina)
.985 PCT, 115 games, 926 putouts, 78 assists, 15 errors, 1019 total chances, 88 double plays

Sabourin has proven to be a reliable defender, hitter and leader for the Indians in the lower levels over the past two seasons. There is a lot of value in a player that provides those three things. He once again really helped an infield at Carolina which was in constant transition all season. He led the Carolina League in games played at first base (115), total chances (1019), putouts (926), assists (78), errors (15) and double plays (88).

And the 2013 Tony Award goes to….Tyler Holt

It is interesting that Aguilar, Sabourin and Fink are all first baseman and occupy three of the eight spots on this list. I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing to have three first basemen on a list such as this (probably a bad thing); however, while players like Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez deserve to be on this listing by reputation alone they simply did not exceed the play like the peers at their positions the way Aguilar, Fink and Sabourin did. Lindor is a special defensive talent, but he has some hiccups this past season he will learn from.

For me, this came down to Naquin and Holt. Both are two gifted center fielders, but even though Naquin made huge strides this past season he simply is not yet up to par with the defensive ability of Holt and in my view Holt had a better season in the outfield.

Akron manager Edwin Rodriguez constantly spoke highly of Holt this season and the job he did in center field tracking down balls most other center fielders would not get. The front office likes the work he has put in to polish his game as a defender. All that awaits him is a potential trip to Triple-A Columbus to start next year where he can really fine tune his approach at the plate and get better at stealing bases.

Holt has really carved a niche in the organization as an above average defensive outfielder that can steal bases and hit a little bit. With his very good defense, versatility, baserunning skills and solid approach from the right side, it has him on the big league radar in 2014 as a depth outfield option.

Up Next: Biggest Disappointment

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

October 22, 2013 - 10:51 AM EDT
Yep, there is definitely value for a guy like Holt who plays defense the way he does and also brings a lot of other intangibles to the table. In a lot of ways, he might provide as much or just below what Drew Stubbs can (sans the power) as a reserve/platoon outfielder.
October 22, 2013 - 10:45 AM EDT
Saw Holt play in person in college & his D has always been special. Reminds me of Ryan Zimmerman in that they both seem to make plays instinctively that most payers can't even learn. Omar had it too. Hard to describe but you know it when you see it. Smoothness, sureness & confidence. It's fun to watch a great defensive player doing his thing. Offers a lot of value to the team. Hope he makes it to the show. That kind of defense, tough mindedness, base running & hustle would be nice off the bench. Hits lefties good too. Not bad for a 10th Rounder.

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