Behind the Rays' defensive success

Sam Fuld is a key component to the Rays' elite defense. J. Meric/Getty Images

With the draft rapidly approaching, many people have mentioned the Tampa Bay Rays' stockpile of draft picks, including 12 of the first 89 overall selections. The Rays acquired these picks, of course, because they sustained significant free agent losses over the offseason. With Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and relief pitchers Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Chad Qualls and Randy Choate all joining new teams, it would have been easy to expect the Rays to fall out of contention.

However, Joe Maddon's club had other ideas. Plugging in Casey Kotchman, Sam Fuld and Reid Brignac, the Rays' lineup doesn't pack the same punch offensively, but on defense the Rays have taken their game to the next level. Led by Fuld and Evan Longoria, the Rays feature the top-ranked defense according to Baseball Info Solutions' defensive runs saved metric. With 39 runs saved, the defense has earned the team an estimated four wins in the standings.