THE SEATTLE MARINERS DEFENSE. Last year I posted here in early March on “The Importance of Mario Scutaro.” I pointed out how good the Toronto Blue Jay defense had been in 2008 and highlighted Mario Scutaro, their shortstop, who was an outstanding fielder who had finally gotten a regular job at the age of 32. Toronto had a good defense in 2009, anchored by Scutaro at shortstop, and Scutaro had a surprising breakthrough as a hitter, with an OPS of .788. But it was the Seattle Mariners who showed the importance of defense in 2009. Seattle’s new general manager, Jack Zduriencik, emphasized defense, and the new Baseball Prospectus shows, using four of the leading fielding metrics, that Seattle had the best defense in the majors. (That there are four different metrics indicates how controversial fielding statistics are.) It worked. Seattle was last in the American league in scoring runs by large margin, but compiled a won-lost record of 85-77 and won 24 more games than it had the previous year. (Seattle’s park favors the defense, but not by that much). This year, Seattle will have arguably the best defensive player in baseball at four positions: Franklin Guitterez in centerfield, Ichiro in right field, Jack Wilson at shortstop and Chone Figgins at third base.

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  1. Nick says:

    I’ve debated this at length with various fans, but I’m not quite sure how well the Mariners will do next year. They have elite run prevention, but even with the addition of Figgins and Milton Bradley, I’m not sure how much that will make up for the loss of Branyan’s career year and Adrian Beltre.

    They also got a bit lucky in terms of their runs scored – runs allowed record. I think any balancing of luck will offset the addition of talent.

    Then again, Jack Z will probably make some great in season moves too. I’m thinking something like 86-89 wins.

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