The M's OF Rotation



John Dewan has the Mariners' defensive runs saved by position:  +9 LF, +14 CF, +8 LF.  Every other team in the AL has at least one bad or mediocre outfield position.  The M's have easily the best all-around defensive outfield in the league.

This in turn allows them to Moneyball themselves into a "market inefficiency" with starting pitchers who throw fly balls in Safeco.  Andrew Moore has a ridiculous fly ball rate.  Ariel Miranda may be even more extreme in deserved fly ball ratio; the M's (and he) have a plus record in Miranda's starts despite 27 homers in 126 innings.  There have been Tacoma Rainiers like Christian Bergman who scuffled into decent performances because of the synergy.  No doubt the outfield will run down a lot of Marco Gonzales' mistakes and could make the difference for him psychologically.  If he's any good, of course :- )


Their throwing arms! are the icing on the cake.  Heredia gets all sorts of credit for a plus arm.  Fangraphs has Jarrod Dyson for +8 runs saved with his arm; that counts throws he doesn't make, where runners avoid testing him.  Dyson has made a couple-three especially cool throws the last week, important throws.  And Leonys Martin?  He made a throw from deep RF to nail one runner, a 95 MPH throw on the fly just like that one Ichiro made in 2001 ... except, I've got to admit, Ichiro was coming in on a groundball single.  Martin did it flatfooted, almost, on a deep sac fly.


Krueger said something interesting.  He said, you put him under bright lights and truth serum and he takes Guillermo Heredia over any other M's outfielder.

Not me.  I've got Haniger as a Best Bet still.  But the point is well taken.


We all know that Ben Gamel isn't going to finish in the top 10 for AVG the next ten seasons.  But, man, you gotta love his ability to take a close pitch, and his knack for hitting 15-degree fliners to all fields.  The kid is still learning.  He's got 2.0 WAR in 86 games and that's despite a rather weird -5 runs defensively.


Blowers pointed out that the M's played a strange variation of their infield shift Thursday.  Robbie Cano played his normal position at 2B, maybe shaded up the middle, and Jean Segura (!?) played the rover in front of the right fielder.  The reason was to take pressure of Cano's legs.

Is it just me or is Robinson Cano -the- biggest second baseman you've ever seen?  He looks like a football linebacker to me.  It's a bit of cognitive dissonance that he can play 2B with the cat-quick athletes that populate the position.  But!  UZR has him exactly average for defense this year, +0.0, and almost exactly even over the last five years as a whole.

It's a position scarcity benefit.  When your #3 batter plays middle infield, you've got all sorts of play in the steering wheel at the bat positions.  The M's are taking full advantage, but it starts with Robbie.  It's a fun team to watch.




tjm's picture

. . . is the first guy I thought of. Just as big and late in his creer bigger. Not an elite defender. Bobby Grich was taller and solidly built. Franco, as I recall him, was really skinny. I would never have thought of Jackie Robinson but bodywise he's the perfect match.


One of the big guys at 2B, but my (offhand) impression is that Robbie has 10-20 pounds on even him.  LOL.  Cano looks like one of those guys who walks down the street with his arms spaced from his sides because he's musclebound.  Or not.



I don't doubt Jackie Robinson was a very powerful man.  I guess Jackie's ability to steal bases throws me off here, since Robbie had 0 stolen bases last year.  But maybe Jackie Robinson was huge *and* fast and just that freakish of an athlete.

Good stuff amigos.



Am wayyyyy off of anything sabermetric today, LOL, but I think of Robbie at second base the way I used to think of Griffey in center.  Beautiful to watch but you knew he was a lot slower than the other guys at the position.

Cano may be compensating for his questionable legs with fielding charts and instincts.


I've got nothing against a "bat-first" infielder.  Even when Cano is giving away 5, 10 runs a season, if he is 15-20 runs better at the plate than another 2B, then you still get the position scarcity.  The Yankees certainly did that with Jeter for a while...


Even in his prime, Griffey only had one or two seasons that were statistically much above average, and, by 1997, he was in the bottom third of the game defensively. All those gold gloves...on reputation and his physical appearance.


I'm amazed to hear Robbie is still grading out at 0.0 this year. That's what Adrian Beltre's arm and squeaky clean play will do for you.

Personally, even with the glitzy cool and the position adjustment, it hurts me a little to watch Robbie play defense these days. So often someone hits a three hopper towards a hole or up the middle, and I go "okay, that's an out... oh no wait, Robbie didn't get within three feet of it." He's just painfully slow for the position. I'd put the over/under for his transition to 1B at Spring 2019. I'm not sure I'd take the over...

On the other hand, you gotta appreciate that he's managed to stick at 2B for so long despite being the wrong build for it. Very cool to know that if you took a Gold Glove 3B and made him play 2B, it'd be possible for him to fake it based on reflexes and throwing arm alone.


shoulda read it before my comment above :- )

Agreed here too.  The fact that the M's have scraped together a 0.0 UZR for him this year is probably a testament to the M's intel and Robbie's talent.


Yeah, that too. The shifts seem like they'd help Robbie way more than any other 2B. He gets to play back to improve reaction time, but has enough arm to still make all the throws. Were this a pre-shift era, he might be at -10 this year. Which is pretty awesome all on its own, when you think about it. "Our analytics have added 1WAR to our HOF second baseman this year..."


Are beating their FIP by a collective 0.66, excluding the 2 underperformers (Chase DeJong and Dillon Overton), the remaing 8 pitchers have beat their FIP by 0.81.  So for those 8 guys, the Outfield has been worth about a 16% reduction in expected ERA.

Emilio Pagan 0.238 0.42 20.30% 23.40% 56.30% 13.90% 5.60% 2.77 2.96 26 8 2 6 1 26
Ariel Miranda 0.229 0.63 15.30% 32.90% 51.80% 14.30% 14.30% 4.41 5.29 126.667 62 27 40 2 103
Andrew Moore 0.229 0.54 21.90% 27.30% 50.80% 9.20% 16.90% 5.65 6.58 36.667 23 11 4 1 16
Chase De Jong 0.277 0.64 21.40% 30.60% 48.00% 8.50% 10.60% 6.35 5.9 28.33 20 5 13 0 13
Edwin Diaz 0.25 0.88 13.20% 40.60% 46.20% 24.50% 16.30% 3.15 4 45.667 16 8 20 1 64
Dan Altavilla 0.293 0.79 18.10% 36.10% 45.80% 13.20% 21.10% 5.46 5.74 29.667 18 8 14 1 36
Nick Vincent 0.284 0.81 21.10% 35.30% 43.60% 15.50% 1.70% 1.77 2.38 45.667 9 1 8 0 36
Hisashi Iwakuma 0.22 0.95 16.30% 40.80% 42.90% 9.50% 16.70% 4.35 6.41 31 15 7 12 2 16
Dillon Overton 0.262 0.93 17.60% 39.70% 42.60% 3.40% 13.80% 6.38 5.44 18.33 13 4 2 0 8
Christian Bergman 0.296 0.92 22.00% 37.30% 40.70% 13.10% 18.00% 5.44 5.98 46.33 28 11 14 2 30
Total 4.393024 5.049499 434.325 212 84 133 10 348

An 0.65 to 0.80 reduction in ERA, due to synergy, it's hard to even put that into proportion.  It's about the difference between Chris Archer and the American League average.

This plan was almost the first thing Jerry Dipoto announced when he took over - an athletic outfield, pitchers who fit the park, a "run prevention model."  The M's aren't yet the 1965 Dodgers but Dipoto is certainly executing his plan.


Just for reference, the difference between FIP and ERA would amount to 30 runs saved for the flyball pitchers so two-thirds of a season.

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