This is the time of year when people select their first half MVPs and Cy Young Award winners. But nobody ever asks “Who was the first half Defensive MVP?”

Not until now anyways. I just asked. And now I’ll answer.

It’s an easy call for me. My choice would be Blue Jays outfielder Daulton Varsho.

Varsho has 12 Defensive Runs Saved in left field (most in MLB) and 7 Runs Saved in center field (1 run shy of the MLB lead). Adding 12 and 7 isn’t necessarily the best way to assess defensive value but if you do, he’s No. 1 in baseball with 19 Runs Saved (he tied Fernando Tatis Jr. for No. 1 last year too). He’s also No. 1 in 2024 in Baseball-Reference’s Defensive WAR, which takes the difficulty of playing the position into account.

Varsho is on the small side and he’s a little burly. He’s listed at 5-foot-8, 207 pounds. That’s an odd combination for an MLB outfielder in 2024 and one more appropriate for his former position, catcher. In fact, there aren’t even any other semi-regular outfielders who are 5-9 or shorter and 200 pounds or heavier.

Magicians will sometimes describe a trick as packing small and playing big. That’s a good way to describe Varsho too. He goes after fly balls without fear or hesitation both coming in and going back to make catchers that other outfielders don’t make.

In April, it felt like he was in Quick Pitch’s “Premier Play” highlights every night. It’s a little less regular these days but still evident. He leads all outfielders with 18 Good Fielding Plays* Much like a good magic trick, you don’t know he can surprise you with how good he is.

* Good Fielding Plays, awarded by our Video Scouts, encompass great catches, throws resulting in an out, and plays like cutting a ball off to prevent a batter or runner from taking an extra base. 

Our Video Scouts have credited Varsho with a Good Fielding Play on 15 fly ball or line drive catches this season. You can see what makes Varsho so good by watching some of them.


This one from April 28 against the Dodgers rates higher in fear factor than out probability. Bonus points because Shohei Ohtani was the hitter. Watch it again and listen to the impact. Props to the SportsNet production team for having the wall mic’d.

By our count, Varsho has caught 4 balls on which he’s crashed into a fence this season, tied with Stuart Fairchild and Jazz Chisholm Jr. for most in MLB.

 If you want to see one that rates higher out probability wise, check out Varsho’s 40-yard dash-and-crash on this one on July 5 against the Mariners and Luke Raley.

and another of the same nature on April 19 against the Padres and Xander Bogaerts.


Sometimes Varsho does approach the wall carefully. Like here on May 13 against a would-be home run hit by Ryan O’Hearn of the Orioles.


I’m going to do something I don’t usually do here and publish a still shot  because this one is just perfect at showing how high he got. Love that an Orioles reliever got a nice close-up of it. He’ll probably never see a better catch.

Daulton Varsho reaches well over the outfield wall to make a catch as an Orioles relief pitcher watches.

You’ve now gotten a pretty good look at what Varsho is like when going back to make a difficult play.

But what about other types of catches?

Varsho ranks No. 1 in MLB – per Statcast – when assessing how much more ground he covers than the average outfielder within the first 3 seconds of the ball coming off the bat. He’s shown he can go in any direction to make a play.

This one is our No. 1 play by out probability for Varsho, a liner to right center by Bobby Witt Jr. on April 26. We gave Varsho only a 7% chance of making the catch. Royals broadcaster Rex Hudler realized right away how good it was.


His No. 2 play is also a low liner, this one to left field by Anthony Rizzo, which checked in with a 12% out probability.


And more recently, there’s this catch and double play against Ty France of the Mariners on July 6. It looks like he actually snagged this one with the heel of his glove and then squeezed it while tumbling over.


Varsho has split his time between left field and center field almost evenly this season. His 7 Runs Saved in center field are boosted by the bonus he got for the home run robbery plus a couple for limiting baserunner advances on base hits. He’s made 96 catches on 133 opportunities*, 5 more than the summed out probabilities from those 133 chances indicated he’d make

* Opportunities = plays with a >0% out probability

He’s been a very good center fielder. But he’s been a dominant left fielder. There, he’s made 93 catches on 109 opportunities, 12 more than his expected number of catches. He’s far better than the rest of the field in the range component of Runs Saved.

Varsho’s basically eliminated mistakes from his game. In 2023 he had 11 Defensive Misplays & Errors in just over 800 innings. In 2024 he has 1 Misplay and no errors in just shy of 350 innings.

We’ve heard from a lot of angry Blue Jays fans on social media who feel that Varsho’s excellence goes unrecognized. That’s not the case here. We’re well aware of just how good he’s been.

Most Defensive Runs Saved – Left Field

Name Team Runs Saved
Daulton Varsho Blue Jays 12
Brandon Marsh Phillies 10
Riley Greene Tigers 8
Steven Kwan Guardians 8


Most Defensive Runs Saved – Center Field

Name Team Runs Saved
Jarren Duran Red Sox 8
Jacob Young Nationals 8
Pete Crow-Armstrong Cubs 8
Daulton Varsho Blue Jays 7