Blue Jays plan for total defensive domination working well so far

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees / Elsa/GettyImages

When it comes to baseball, defense is third behind offense and pitching in respect of headlines and glamour. This doesn't make it any less important however, whether we're talking about the Blue Jays or the majors in general.

One of the many ways defensive effectiveness can be measured, is through Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). This calculates how many runs a player saves or costs his team, compared to an average player.

The reason we're focusing on DRS specifically, is because this is something the Blue Jays have proved to be good at. As per The Fielding Bible, last year they ranked eight-best as a team in the Majors, with a total of 44. (This means a net positive of 44 runs saved over the course of the 2022 season.)

Nearly league-leading defense

If that seems impressive, now consider how well the Blue Jays are doing so far in DRS this year. As of right now, they are third in the entire league, with a team net positive of 33 through 75 games, trailing only the Brewers (36) and Rangers (35).

As per The Fielding Bible, the Blue Jays' strongest position for DRS is center field, with a net positive of 19. Along with the outfield as a whole -- which has a DRS of 22 -- both figures also lead the Majors.

One of the main reasons for this comes down to the offseason additions of Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho. Both have been like a breath of fresh area for the Blue Jays in the outfield, ranking third (13) and fourth (12), respectively, in player DRS as of June 21.

Welcome additions in the outfield

Kiermaier has started 55 games in center field, completing 51 of them. Meanwhile, Varsho has started 51 games in left field (completing 47 of them) and 20 times in center field (completing 14).

Kiermaier has a resume which includes three Gold Gloves and one Platinum Glove. And yet there is arguably still some surprise at just how well he's playing, just because of his age (33) and coming off season-ending hip surgery.

At the same time however, as per Mike Petriello of, the former Tamp Bay Ray is -- statistically at least -- in the running for best defensive outfielder of all time. If there is any justice, he deserves his first ever All Star selection this year.

As for Varsho, there may be some surprise in certain quarters about the level of his defensive success in 2023, but there shouldn't be. Consider that last year he ranked tied-14th in the Majorswith a DRS of 16 - for some context, the league leader had a 24.

DRS keeping Blue Jays in contention

Returning to the Blue Jays' overall team success with DRS, how much this helps them come year's end remains to be seen. At the time of writing though, they sit 1.0 GB of the Yankees for both second in the AL East and a wild card spot.

Now consider that compared to the Blue Jays' DRS of 34, the Yankees have just a 14. Yes, this is still good enough for eighth in the majors, but that net difference of 19 is contributing to keeping Toronto so close to their divisional rivals.

And if the Blue Jays do ultimately make the playoffs, both Kiermaier and Varsho would deserve serious consideration for generous new contract offers based on their current contributions. Defense may not be as 'sexy' as offense and pitching, but never has it been more possible to cite just how important it is.