TORONTO -- Two years ago, there was plenty of doubt as to whether Brett Lawrie would be able to handle the everyday duties at third base.
There was skepticism over a transition from second base, and some critics felt he ultimately would be forced into a corner outfield spot. All of that talk seems like it happened an eternity ago, though, as Lawrie now finds himself among the best in the American League at his position.
Lawrie's outstanding play at the hot corner earned another accolade on Sunday as he was named the Blue Jays' recipient of the first Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Each team had one player selected as its defensive player of the year. Unlike the Gold Glove Awards, which are voted on by Major League managers and coaches, these award winners were determined by statistical metrics, using the same "shredder system" seen on the sabermetrics-heavy show "Clubhouse Confidential," along with input from MLB Network analysts.
The 22-year-old Lawrie displayed impressive range in the field, and his overall athleticism enabled the Blue Jays to implement aggressive shifts against left-handed hitters. He also drastically improved his ability to charge balls at third base and became more consistent with his throws.
Lawrie, who made a team-leading 17 errors, ranked fourth in the AL among third basemen in Fangraph's Ultimate Zone Rating, which is an advanced metric used to measure defensive contributions. He trailed only Kansas City's Mike Moustakas, Texas' Adrian Beltre and Los Angeles' Alberto Callaspo.
Lawrie could also be in the mix for the Defensive Player of the Year in the 2012 Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards (GIBBYs), which are based on voting by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni and the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as fan balloting on MLB.com.
Starting on Monday through Dec. 2, fans will be able to cast their ballots at MLB.com for the year's top defensive star, with no individual league affiliation.
Lawrie finished the year hitting .273 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs in 125 games. He also posted a .729 OPS with 40 extra-base hits during his sophomore season.