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Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Simmons on path to all-time great year on D

By Mark Simon

Stop if you've heard this before: The Sweet Spot Defensive Player of the Month for June is Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

This marks the second straight month that Simmons has won in our voting, and the third time he's won since the start of last season.

Simmons had 13 Defensive Runs Saved for the month, the most of any player in the major leagues, and more than double the shortstop with the next-most (Alcides Escobar, 6).

We're just past the midpoint of the season, and Simmons has racked up 24 Defensive Runs Saved. His lead over all other shortstops is lopsided. You can add the Runs Saved totals for the shortstops with the second-, third-, and fourth-most DRS and they don't add up to Simmons' total.

The Defensive Runs Saved stat, created by Baseball Info Solutions founder John Dewan, has existed since 2003. Simmons has a legit shot at the record for most Defensive Runs Saved in a season, 35 by New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner in 2010, and the most by a shortstop, 34 by Adam Everett of the Houston Astros in 2006. Last year's shortstop leader was Brendan Ryan of the Seattle Mariners. He finished with 27.

It would be at least mildly surprising if Simmons didn't smash all those marks. He's played in 127 games since his recall last season, and has tallied 43 Defensive Runs Saved.

The biggest impediment to Simmons breaking those records isn't his defense, but his offense. After posting a .289/.335/.416 slash line in 2012, he's at .240/.278/.331 in 2013. His .609 OPS rates 12th-worst among the 160 players qualified for the batting title. And he is 11-for-60 in his past 15 games.

But once you've seen this and this, it's easy to tell: He's not letting his offense impact his defense, and it seems unlikely the Braves would bench him.

Who else had a standout defensive month?

Orioles third baseman Manny Machado finished second in our voting. His nine Defensive Runs Saved were the most of any third baseman, and his 21 for the season are the most at the position, and second-most for any player behind Simmons.

Machado is record-chasing too: The single-season mark for most Defensive Runs Saved by a third baseman is 30, set by Scott Rolen for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004

Machado beat out Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, who finished third. Arenado continued his impressive run. He tied with Carlos Gomez (fourth in our balloting) for the most Web Gems for the month (3), and made 21 of what Baseball Info Solutions calls "Good Fielding Plays" -- the most for any player in the majors in June.

Lastly, a statistical salute to Giants rookie outfielder Juan Perez, who didn't place in our balloting (Michael Brantley rounded out our top five) but who did something rather impressive. In Perez's first 100 innings, he recorded five outfield assists, four in situations in which the runner was trying to advance a base.

Perez has only played in a couple weeks worth of games, but already ranks second on the team in Defensive Runs Saved for the season with seven, trailing only Gregor Blanco’s nine.