Small stat of the day: the defensive improvement
Since the M’s made their outfield alignment change to try and regularly get two good gloves out there at the same time, and began to regularly replace Sexson at first (even with Cairo and Vidro) I’ve been watching their defensive stats drift upwards with interest. And now Riggleman’s even used defensive subs for Ibanez (!) late in games, which is great.
While earlier in the year they were in the basement, one of the worst teams in baseball, before tonight’s game they were 21st in defensive efficiency which is just balls put into play (except HRs) turned into outs.
That’s a huge, huge swing. It means the Mariners have been playing legitimately good defense overall for a while now, and we’ve seen that pay off in a lot of ways beyond just outs: for instance, it’s made some Ryan Franklin-worthy starts by Jarrod Washburn look great, and that may help the team move his salary.
This has been a large and as far as I’ve seen generally unacknowledged part of the team’s improved record lately. That putting two legitimately good defenders in the outfield and taking playing time away from a terrible defender (and at a traditionally defensively neglected position) has helped swing things to the M’s side is another demonstration of the importance of defense.