If you read this blog regularly, or read Mark Simon's work across ESPN.com, you know we love to cite Defensive Runs Saved, the metric created and tracked by Baseball Info Solutions. Baseball-Reference.com uses the statistic in its defensive-calculation part of Wins Above Replacement.
Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan always rates high in DRS -- 27 in 2012 (second in the majors to Darwin Barney), 18 in 2011 (tied for seventh), 22 in 2010 (fourth) and 22 in 2009 (tied for fourth). Over those four seasons, his 89 DRS easily ranks first overall, ahead of Adrian Beltre's 65, and the 62 by Evan Longoria and Michael Bourn.
Even if you're not completely on board with DRS, Ryan's consistent excellence -- with two different teams -- has to be respected. That he can hold on to a regular job despite hitting .194 last season tells you what the Mariners think of his defense.
Here's one play from Monday night's 2-0 shutout win over Oakland. It came with two out and a runner on third and Yoenis Cespedes batting, and saved a run. It's not the play of the year or anything, but the effortlessness of Ryan's execution shows he well he plays shortstop. He ranges far to his left and spins and fires to gun down Cespedes, who runs OK. Watch how quickly he gets rid of the ball. He makes it look easy, which is what the good ones do on defense.