For those Braves fans who watch Yunel Escobar day in and day out, you almost take for granted how good and how smooth he is at shortstop. Balls hit up the middle off Braves pitchers have turned into easy outs thanks to the plus defense of Yuney. Little did we know that he might be the best defensive shortstop in baseball this year. Here is a breakdown of defensive runs saved by stat guru John Dewan (hat tip: Bill Chuck):
Two and a half months into the season, it is a good time to look and see who have been our best defensive players of the year. Let’s take a look at our overall leaders, in terms of Defensive Runs Saved.
2010 Runs Saved Leaders Player Team Pos. Innings Runs Saved 2B/RF 547 15 Yunel Escobar Braves SS 448 15 Austin Jackson CF 498 13 Alexei Ramirez SS 530 12 Michael Bourn CF 527 11 Ryan Zimmerman 3B 445 11 2B 515 11 Robinson Cano 2B 550 10
Ben Zobrist is no surprise here, as he finished near the top of the league last year with 31 runs saved. What’s impressive about Zobrist is that he has accumulated his runs saved at numerous positions, having spent time at first base, second base, and all three outfield spots.
Yunel Escobar has always been one of the best defenders at shortstop, with runs saved totals the last two years of 12 and 13. Always strong on plays to his left, Escobar is now making some of those plays to his right. He has already eclipsed his previous career high in Defensive Runs Saved.
Jimmy Rollins is the three-time defending National League Gold Glove winner at shortstop, but he's been on the shelf for all but a dozen games this year, and unless the voters use their lazy button at the end of the year and give him the 2010 Gold Glove despite his missed time, then we should have an open race at shortstop. Troy Tulowitzki will likely give Yunel his biggest challenge, and big names like Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez will always be mentioned among the contenders.
Escobar is earning his spot as one of the top defenders at shortstop in the league. If he can continue to put up numbers like this and make plays in the field, then perhaps he will get recognition for that at the end of the year in the form of a Gold Glove.