Matt Wieters headlines 2011 class of “Fielding Bible Awards”

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It’s tough to take the Gold Glove awards too seriously these days. Fortunately we also have the Fielding Bible Awards around to recognize the best defensive players at each position.

For those unfamiliar, the Fielding Bible Awards are voted on by a 10-person panel of experts, including Bill James, Peter Gammons, Rob Neyer, Joe Posnanski, John Dewan and the Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) scouting team. This is the sixth edition of the awards, which recognizes players from both leagues.

Below are your 2011 winners:

C – Matt Wieters, Orioles
1B – Albert Pujols, Cardinals
2B – Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
3B – Adrian Beltre, Rangers
LF – Brett Gardner, Yankees
CF – Austin Jackson, Tigers
RF – Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
P – Mark Buehrle, White Sox

Hard to find much to complain about here, as all are considered elite defenders. The biggest news here is that Wieters supplants Yadier Molina, who won the previous four Fielding Bible awards at catcher. Mark Buehrle takes the prize for a third straight year while Troy Tulowitzki and Brett Gardner also repeat at their respective positions.

By the way, we won’t have to wait too long to find out who the Gold Glove winners are. While MLB has traditionally announced them via press release, ESPN2 will unveil the winners for each league with a live one-hour telecast tomorrow night at 10 p.m. ET. Finalists for each position were announced earlier today, presumably in an effort to increase the drama, which is yet another first. Of note, last year’s Gold Glove award winner Derek Jeter is not among the finalists for shortstop in the American League while 2011 Fielding Bible award winners Albert Pujols and Justin Upton were also left off.

Royals to sign Billy Hamilton

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LAS VEGAS — Jim Bowden reports that the Kansas City Royals are close to agreement with outfielder Billy Hamilton. He says they are “just working through bonuses and pending physical.” Hamilton was non-tendered by the Cincinnati Reds a couple of weeks ago following six seasons with the club, making him a free agent.

Hamilton is one of the fastest men to ever play the game, but he has never come around as a hitter. In his six seasons with the Reds he put up a line of .245/.298/.333 (OPS+ 70). While he has stolen 277 bases over that period, getting caught 63 times, he has never once led the league in steals, primarily because he just doesn’t get on base enough. He is an excellent center fielder, but the bat is so sub-par that even the glove and the wheels are not good enough to justify going to arbitration with him.

Perhaps a change of scenery will do him good. He will certainly bring some excitement to Kansas City. He’s a fun guy to watch play.