Blue Jays' defense key

Toronto's glove work has been a big part of early-season success

Updated: May 5, 2012, 9:55 AM ET
By Ben Jedlovec | Baseball Info Solutions
Brett LawrieAP Photo/Charlie RiedelBrett Lawrie's defense has played a major role in the Blue Jays' early success.

When looking at the American League East, it's easy to focus on the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. Baltimore Orioles fans will remind you that their team is in second place and would currently occupy the first wild-card spot if the season ended today. Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays quietly lurk in third place.

While Tampa is as good as advertised and currently sits atop the division, the Red Sox and Yankees look vulnerable. Boston has 10 players and a large portion of its payroll on the disabled list, and New York has injury concerns of its own, including the loss of the iconic Mariano Rivera. Both teams are expecting players back from the DL soon, and both will begin the uphill climb back to the top of the division. To get there, they will have to surpass the Blue Jays, who are winning despite an early-season slump from superstar slugger Jose Bautista.

Toronto's payroll is in the bottom third of MLB, so it has taken a Tampa-esque approach to finding every little edge it can, most notably on defense. The Blue Jays currently lead baseball with 37 defensive runs saved, meaning the Blue Jays have allowed 37 fewer runs because of their league-leading defense.