Just when you thought you'd seen everything from Dr. D. The words Epic, Mariner, and 2015 Defense* together in one (fragmented) sentence. And you thought you could stop me. No, you can only hope to contain me.
James was asked a great question last week. Hey, with so much shifting, wouldn't the great shortstop be devalued? Personally I thought the question was understated. Might not the changing conditions of the game make the light hitting, great defensive shortstop obsolete?
He floored me when he replied, "If that was theoretically true, I would think it would only be true at such a low level that it would be nearly impossible to prove. I would think."
That's odd to me, because usually he's very quick to say that any change in the conditions of the game skews player values more than people realize. Which may be why he phrased his reply so gingerly.
I mean, if the difference between the Cleveland outfield walls, vs. Safeco's walls, seriously devalues the great defensive outfielder, what about SHIFTS where the shortstop no longer has to have a good arm? Robinson Cano, much less Kyle Seager, can and do play the same spot on the field that Ketel Marte does.
The Mariners, with their great 2B and 3B, are in a position to exploit shifts better than the average team. And, as you know, the new-admin Mariners luvva luvva luvva their shifts. At SSI we luvva luvva luvva them for it. I'd turn the thumbscrews to absolute max on shifting, for as long as major league hitters refuse to adapt. If you ain't going to keep a blocking back in on the blitz, here I come, every play.
Maybe there are a few guys here who are not aware that Kyle Seager was a second baseman until just before he got to the major leagues. Like he played all his life at 2B, and then twenty games (?) before he was promoted from Tacoma, they had him try some third. It worked out okay.
But the point is, when you change Kyle Seager's throwing angle to 1B, or shorten the throw as shifts often do ... he gets back to where he once belonged. It's a gorgeous little hidden advantage to have Seager to shift with.
The Mariners had a below-average defense, -23 runs saved, per John Dewan, 11th in the league. Let's not make it out to be a tragedy. The A's were -83, and the Tigers (who won a few games) were at -60. The Baltimore Orioles were -30.
But, interestingly, even in that context the Mariners led the league in runs saved by the shift, at +22 saved. Wow.
(1) The M's had +14 runs saved by Cano, another +12 from Seager. Those guys were fish-in-water with creative infield positioning, weren't they?
(2) Shortstop was neutral.
(3) First base offers us a -6 defensive runs to improve on. Well, maybe.
(4) Let's see here... how many of you erudite SSI readers are thinking the M's corner outfielders played well? About half? .... (joking, Matty)
The corners cost the M's -13 and -9 runs. So, that and 1B and ... the catcher was -5 and, get this, the PITCHERS were -9, worst in the league. Heh! Guess those pitcher fielding drills in March were what nosed us out of the playoffs. What an index-card speech for the coaches, eh RockiesJeff? ;- )
The M's have got an awesome weapon in their infield shift and the men who are playing it. Next phase for DiPoto, LF, RF, and P. Doesn't sound too tough.