The Seattle Mariners have made plenty of moves this offseason, but maybe the most important changes have occurred in the outfield.
One of Mariners GM, Jerry Dipoto’s goals for this offseason was to make the outfield younger and more athletic than it was last season. In adding
Last season, the team had competent players in the corner outfield positions with Nori Aoki and Seth Smith, but both were below average defenders.
With Leonys Martin, the fixture in centerfield for the M’s, adding two more centerfielders into the corner outfield positions makes this one of the best defensive outfields in baseball.
To look at how this year’s revamped outfield compares to lasts, I looked at each individual player’s defensive WAR (dWAR) and range factor per game (RF/G)– (putouts + assists)/games played.
For reference, Kevin Kiermaier led baseball in dWAR at 3.0. Ender Inciarte led all outfielders with an RF/G of 2.83, while the National league average for outfielders was 2.05. American League RF/G average was 2.12.
Last year, Martin provided a dWAR of 0.2. That’s surprisingly low considering the constant highlight reel plays he made, but he was certainly an important piece to the Mariners outfield nevertheless.
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Aoki put up a dWAR of -0.7 and Smith had a -1.2; both were detrimental to the team with their defense in 2016.
In terms of RF/G, Martin put up a 2.55, which was well above league average. Aoki put up a 1.95 and Smith a 1.49; both below league average as far as range factor goes. So, it was no surprise Dipoto wanted to upgrade at these positions via Dyson and Haniger.
In 2016, Dyson had a dWAR of 2.0 and a RF/G of 2.18. Even though his range is just slightly above league average, he was a very valuable defensive player.
Haniger, who only played 31 games in the outfield last season, put up a dWAR of 0.1 and an RF/G of 2.06. Despite the small sample size of time played last year, Haniger was a much more efficient outfielder than the Mariners who were out there last year.
There is no question that this outfield defense will be fun to watch in 2017. Their athleticism will show on a nightly basis. Who knows if a fly ball will ever hit the grass. Hopefully this improvement to the team will help push the Mariners into the playoffs for the first time since 2001.