According to an ESPN report, the Mariners have saved 15 runs this season because of defensive shifts. That’s the most in baseball, just ahead of the Rockies (14) and Padres (13).
When the Mariners have their next pitchers’ meeting, manager Scott Servais is coming prepared with some information.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Mark Simon, who is a researcher for their stats blog, tweeted out a study of defensive shift success on balls put in play for MLB teams.
The Mariners rated at the top of Simon’s list in terms of runs saved. Per Simon’s findings, Seattle had saved 15 runs this season because of defensive shifts. That’s the most in baseball, just ahead of the Rockies (14) and Padres (13).
The Mariners also were the most efficient. They were in some variation of a defensive shift on 558 balls in play for those 15 runs saved, meaning they are saving 2.69 runs per 100 shifts. And while 558 shifts may seem like a lot, it actually ranks Seattle in the bottom half. The Diamondbacks had the most with 656.
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“That’s better than I thought we’d be, quite frankly,” Servais said of the runs saved. “I did not expect us to be at the top. I figured we would be in the top six or seven.”
Defensive shifts were something general manager Jerry Dipoto and Servais believed in for success entering this season.
“We’ve made a concerted effort for this,” Servais said. “I really have to give a lot of credit to the guys upstairs in our analytical department. They put together the formula, put together the information and get it down to us.”
Asked if he would show his pitchers this independent information, Servais smiled.
“Absolutely, damn right I will,” Servais said. “Because for every one that gets through, those are the ones they remember. They don’t remember the ones you save. We need to show the guys these numbers.”
Taijuan Walker admitted he was guilty of such thinking.
“The shift is tough as a pitcher,” he said. “When it works, you love it and when it doesn’t work, you hate it. You always remember the ones that get through. But it’s been working really well so I can’t complain.”
The Mariners aren’t going to shy away from shifts.
“It’s no secret,” Servais said. “You basically cut the field up into 18 different quadrants and it’s all color coded. If you see red, it means they hit it there a lot. If you see blue, it means he never hits it there. It’s pretty simple.”
• Luis Sardinas was not in the lineup on Tuesday for Class AAA Tacoma. Could the utility infielder be headed back to the big leagues? It’s certainly a possibility. The 10-day minimum for a minor league assignment will be up on Wednesday for Sardinas.
With Chris Taylor committing two errors on Monday night, the Mariners have that option. Sardinas gives Seattle some offensive versatility as a switch hitter.
• The Mariners’ top two draft picks from 2015 are on the move up. Top pick Nick Neidert, who was taken with the 60th overall pick, was transferred from extended spring training to Class A Clinton. Andrew Moore, the Mariners’ pick after Neidert, moved up from Class A Bakersfield to Class AA Jackson. In nine starts with Bakersfield, he was 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA. Opponents were hitting just .188 against him.