In the age when more people play fantasy baseball than real baseball, it's easy to lose sight of the defensive value players bring to the table. While some players like Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria can seemingly do it all on both sides of the ball, some players don't put up noteworthy offensive numbers but still earn their paycheck in the field.
At Baseball Info Solutions, we've made defensive analysis our specialty and have literally written the book on the subject -- "The Fielding Bible: Volume III." The defensive runs saved system evaluates eight different aspects of defensive play, including the ability to field ground balls and fly balls, turn double plays, field bunts, throw out opposing baserunners and control the running game. All together, we estimate how many runs each fielder saved or cost his team compared to an average fielder at his position.
We projected each player's defensive value for the coming season, and after taking into account the relative difficulty of each position we can assemble a list of the best defensive players in baseball. Here are the top 10.
Hampered partially by injuries and illness, Gutierrez has yet to match his incredible 32 defensive runs saved (DRS) of 2009. However, he remains the only player to win a Fielding Bible Award at two different positions -- right field in 2008 with Cleveland, and center field in 2009 with Seattle. Gutierrez excels on deep fly balls, saving potential doubles and triples and occasionally robbing home runs. His six home run robberies since 2009 leads the majors during that span. We project him for 13 DRS in center in 2012.