Can the Seattle Mariners contend with their defense?

SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 23: Mallex Smith #0 of the Seattle Mariners can't make the catch on a ball that went for a two-run home off the bat of Austin Hedges of the San Diego Padres during the sixth inning of a baseball game at Petco Park April 23, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 23: Mallex Smith #0 of the Seattle Mariners can't make the catch on a ball that went for a two-run home off the bat of Austin Hedges of the San Diego Padres during the sixth inning of a baseball game at Petco Park April 23, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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We already know that a bad bullpen can only get a team so far. Well, the Mariners’ bullpen has been far from good this year with a 4.78 ERA after allowing two touchdowns to the Rangers the last two games.

That has made for the eighth-worst bullpen in the Majors to date. But what’s just as big of a concern is the defense, or lack thereof. What is going on?!

If we’re just talking hitting and defense, the hitting this year has been dynamite while the defense has been dreadful. Hasn’t the page seemed to flip from past years? Remember all those past Mariners teams who couldn’t hit for beans but could at least catch a routine fly ball in the outfield?

This Mariners team has been a disaster in the field so far. When a ball is hit to any of the players, you find yourself holding your breath. You almost pray that the pitchers will only induce strikeouts that way it doesn’t have to come to. It’s one thing if only one or two players are muffing the ball up but most of the nine out there are having a tough time.

Whether it’s Dylan Moore’s nightmare inning against the Red Sox or Mallex Smith’s routine fly ball error this Saturday, the team’s poor defense is making them less fun to watch. Similar to when past Mariners teams would all be in hitting slumps at the same time, this time the epidemic is on the diamond.

The numbers don’t lie as the 2019 Mariners are dead last in the whole MLB with 37 errors through their first 31 games! By the way, the next worst teams are both Sox squads tied at 22. So we’re not just ranked last but are quite the outlier as well. And to compare us to teams who have their defense in sync, two teams are still in the single digits with errors committed (Brewers, Royals)! To say watching this has been an embarrassment would be an understatement.

Or it means that these new guys may be able to hit but their gloves clearly have holes in them. And right now it definitely means that Jerry Dipoto sacrificed some competent defense when he sold last year’s players. Let’s make our way all around the diamond:

At primary backstop, Omar Narvaez can hit better than Zunino but a defensive guru he is not. He has had multiple throws into the outfield and many times, the ball barely reaches second base on a caught-stealing attempt. The problems continue in the infield. Dee Gordon is more of a speedster than Cano but the latter is a better second baseman and made plays look effortless.

And even though Jean had his errors every now and then, he didn’t make the baseball look like a soap like My Guy, Tim Beckham. Beckham’s miserable first inning in that White Sox loss opened the floodgates and the balls he missed were routine. Ryon Healy is playing third base but it’s not his primary position. He’s sadly shown that as we find ourselves hoping to have Seager’s glove back soon. And even though first base is mostly a receiving infield position, Edwin Encarnacion let a ball get by him on Saturday that he should have nailed.

The outfield is a big question mark as we find ourselves missing Ben Gamel’s Spider-Man wall catches and instead are groaning in agony after Domingo drops a routine fly ball for a two-run sac fly on Sunday. And even though Mallex Smith should pan out as a Mariner, the man needs some time in Tacoma with multiple centerfield flops already, capped off by his .180 average. Last year he finished at almost .300 with the Rays.

None of the position players are getting it done on defense and all it does is hurt your team. And extra outs are never a good thing in the MLB. The Rangers’ lead wouldn’t have been as massive on Saturday if not for Dee and Mallex muffing routine plays. If we want to stay in contention, things need to change on defense.

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It could be that everyone is in their head but all at once? It makes you wonder what the Mariners’ defensive approach is inside the clubhouse. Hopefully this is just one big struggle and not as good as all these guys are on defense. Because if so, you can wave bye-bye to contention and say hello to a long season. All these errors have panned out like walks. They are a second chance and in baseball, that usually backfires.

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