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Hot corner: Blue Jays slugger Brett Lawrie saving his best for defense in Toronto

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(AP)

On the outside, Brett Lawrie of the Toronto Blue Jays seems to exude a playful and carefree attitude.

Take Wednesday, for example. Lawrie went on Twitter and asked the following question:

So that's the outside of Lawrie: Easygoing but in need of a tint. (I like how he capitalized "Tan." It's that important to him.)

Inside, though, there's someone lurking who is working very hard at his craft. And not in the way many thought he would.

Lawrie came to the Blue Jays organization with a powerful pedigree at the plate and a reputation on defense that was tolerable, as long as they stashed him somewhere like first base, where he would do the least harm. And as long as he continued to hit. In nearly 300 career major-league plate appearances, Lawrie has hit well — especially considering he turned 22 years old in January — but it's his defense at third base that has been overwhelming.

Over at the hot corner, Lawrie saves runs like nobody else.

Citing data via Fangraphs invented by John Dewan's Baseball Info Solutions (which published the Fielding Bible) reporter John Lott of the National Post in Canada writes that Lawrie leads all major leaguers — regardless of position — in defensive runs saved:

Put simply, the Defensive Runs Saved stat indicates the number of runs a player saves on defense compared to an average player at his position. Players get extra credit for exceptional plays and lose points for errors and other plays they should have made.

Lawrie leads all players with 13 runs saved, five more than the next five players who are tied with eight. And, though his number could fall if his defense falters, we're barely into the season's second month. Evan Longoria led third basemen with 22 runs saved a season ago. The Blue Jays lead the league in runs saved with 35, while the Tampa Bay Rays are next with 27. Ten runs saved roughly equals a victory.

Lott interviewed analyst Ben Jedlovic of BIS, who said that Lawrie is making plays where very few other third baseman make them:

Jedlovec acknowledged that DRS is better at logging what has happened than projecting whether a current trend will continue. But he does not think Lawrie's play is a coincidence.

"A guy like Lawrie, playing this extremely well, that's remarkable," he said. "Chances are, there's something there. It's not entirely a fluke. It was in the sample last year and he's repeating it this year."

But, is a tan in Lawrie's future? It might wreak havoc on those tattoos, you know.

Say, man, why not go out into the wonderful Toronto sunshine and get your burn naturally?

It's free, right?

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"Make me John Boehner Threat-Level Orange, please." (AP, BLS Illustration)

Teammate Brandon Morrow apparently asked Lawrie just that, and he replied:

That's right. Got to get to the ballpark to take infield practice. And maybe do some hitting.

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