John Dewan on the Mariners' D
Defense is all about effort, as any coach will tell ya


For those who just joined us, John Dewan runs the fielding side of Bill James' website.  (Dewan has long been one of the most noted sabermetricians quite aside from his current shtuff at BJOL.)  His latest article is on Jerry Dipoto's deals this offseason.

Dewan points out that Dipoto's winter trades now total 11, and that these have turned over half the M's starting lineup, 4 out of 8 positions.  True, you could say it's 4 out of 9, counting Boomstick at DH, but then again I could say that it's 5 out of 10, counting both the first base players. ...

Dewan's defensive system, which is my own favorite, projects this for the M's 4 new starters:

1) Jarrod Dyson +20 runs above average, replacing Nori Aoki who was -4 runs below average

2) Mitch Haniger +4 runs above average, in place of Seth Smith who Dewan had at -5 runs below league average

3) Shortstop +0 compared to +0 last year.  Quite a coinky-dink

4) First base, look out below:  Valencia and Vogelbach -15 next year, compared to Lind and Lee at -5 total last season

5) Leading to a grand total of +23 runs saved defensively.  Which would be equivalent to a 0.14 bonus to the Mariners' ERA.  0.14 isn't shabby; it's the difference between a 7-8 finish for a team in league ERA, vs. a #10-11 finish or a #4-5 finish


Point is well taken, that the M's will give some glove runs back at first.  Dan Vogelbach was #35 out of 35 first basemen last year -- AAA first basemen.  LOL.  Danny Valencia will also be a fish on a hot concrete dock playing 1B, at least compared to Adam Lind.  But!  I'd be amazed if the lousiness at 1B completely canceled out the Smith/Cruz to Haniger upgrade, wouldn't you?

I'd have to think that Jerry Dipoto would be disappointed by a 23-run difference next year, teamwide.  I'll bet you shekels to shrooms that the M's internal metrics had Seth Smith (and other RF's) at -15 runs or something, and that Dipoto expects better than 4 runs' difference between Mitch Haniger and last year's right fielders.

Dewan does see a 14 (!) runs' difference between Carlos Ruiz (above average defensively) and Chris Iannetta (-10 runs defensively).  The backup catcher won't get as many games, but Zunino is young and quick behind the plate and he takes the games Ruiz doesn't.  So Dewan's got the M's defense for almost 40 runs including the backup catchers, more like 50 if you like Haniger ...

By the way, Dewan had Jarrod Dyson for 9 runs saved in CF last year, 5 more in LF, and 5 in RF.  This in 299 at bats!  Dude, if you wanted a defensive specialist, well.


If you want to go crazy against the +40 to +50 runs number, you can count up the blessings from the #4-5 outfielders ... you could muck around with Leonys Martin's injuries last year ... y mooks can think of other factors I'm sure, such as Drew Smyly's fly balls and the Safeco outfield.

The Angels were #11 in the league in runs given up last year, with 727.  The Red Sox were #3, with 694, a year's difference being 33 defensive runs between lousy and excellent "Run Prevention Models."

Be Afraid,

Dr D



What does 9 runs saved in RF amount to? Is that 12-13 balls that don't fall in, which might equal 9 runs when you add up bases gained by baserunners,?  What is the standard number/formula there?  Smith had 91 OF starts last year (61 in RF, 30 in LF) and played a total of 730 OF innings.  Our pitchers threw a total of 1457 innings, so Smith was basically (and almost exactly) a half-time player in the OF.

9 run gained in 1/2 a season is quite a bit.  But if you add Guti's 400+ COF innings, now replaced by Haniger, then you get somewhere.  Guti, BTW, was a -1.2 dWAR guy last season.  Not good. 

But I think this all indicates, as I've said, just how much we're depending on Haniger's bat not to drag him down and spit him out in Tacoma. Smith and Guti, together, were right at 110 OPS+ with their bats, w/30 HR's in 721 PA's.  The M's are certainly hoping that Haniger can gobble up the bulk of those 721, let's say 600 minimum.  If his bat falters, ending up at 85, or so, and he hits 14 HR's, we're giving up a lot of runs at the plate.  Is there a net gain?  I don't know.

We have something riding on Haniger's bat, or Gamel's/Heredia's/Tank's.  To reap the full benefit of Haniger's gloviness, he needs to get close to 100 OPS+, as I've been saying all along.


On this idea that the offense must be as good as last year.  I'm not saying to flush the offense entirely, but. The "Out of contention on day 160" was largely fueled by the offense last year. 

They were top 5 offense, almost top 10 pitching, bottom 10 defense.  2nd in WRC+, 11th in xFIP, 23rd in DRS and UZR/150.  Also 26th in BsR.

Now the defense is likely moving to top 10 (possibly top 2 or 3) and the pitching certainly improved including the bullpen which only had partial seasons from Diaz and the Altavilla.  Baserunning has improved.  The TOTO exists for 2017 after not really having answers there for years.  Which reminds me.

We may have lost a 110 OPS+ bat from the OF essentially but also gained one at SS.

I feel pretty good about predicting a top 10 finish in offense, defense and pitching.  Top 15 in baserunning at least, which would be a vast improvement over recent trends.  That's a postseason contender. 

Seager, Segura, Cano, Valencia and Zunino combined to hit .290/.354/.496 in 2016.  Then there's the 2nd best DH (well, the other retired, so).  But we're relying on the OF to produce offensively?  Any OF offense should push them closer to WS favorite if things play out the way I see them otherwise.

But I could be wrong.


I'm not trying to beat a dead horse, Wish.  Really.  But if having three 85 OPS+ glovey OF's and gaining the offense elsewhere was a recipe for the playoffs then it sould have been done more often.  DiPoto isn't THAT smart.

Seager just had his career year.  Segura just had his, by a mile.  Cruz just had his 2nd best year ever.  His best was in '15.  Cano just hit a career high in HR's.  I would suggest there is more room for some drop-off than there is for improvement (or maintenance), from those 4.   I'm most confident that Seager doesn't drop much.  I am least confient that Segura stays where he was last year.  But he does give us a general offensive gain even with a drop-off.  

OK, I will leave the Haniger thing alone. Promise.  Well, mostly.  :)    I really like the kid.  I think there is a decent to better chance that he is that 100-ish OPS+ bat.  

But if he's not, we're going to lament the lack of offense from our OF, unless Gamel rips.  Or Tank. Or Valencia is in RF.  Which means we do have options.

Carry on,

Stifling myself,


Bahm's picture

As of now either Vogelbach or Dyson is playing against LHP depending on how you shuffle Valencia around. Dyson should be platooned with a career wRC+65 against LHP, I don't think his LF defense can make up for that. Go sign Guti and platoon him with Dyson, he probably becomes the best OF bat you have if used correctly.

5 has him at .231/.305/.285 lifetime.  An .044 ISO means he's had only 11 extra-base hits in his life.  Also the SB's are held in check.

That would explain his limited at-bats.  Only 34 plate appearances last year vs lefites, vs 300+ against righties.  Good catch Bahm.


The problem is that Martin should be platooned also...


What is the defensive upgrade from Gutierrez to Heredia/Gamel? What is the defensive upgrade from a bunch of bad innings of back-up infielders to mostly a plus defensive O'Malley?

I don't see how Haniger is limited to only +4 when UZR had him a massively plus defensive outfielder in center with the D'Backs...Dewan's method must have come to a radically different conclusion about him...but he looks plus to me in vids.


Saw Dyson's Fan Fest interviews and Larry Stone's piece on him. Sounds like he's got some attittude that the M's have needed forever. 

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.