Shifting paying off big for Mariners

Shifting paying off big for Mariners

SEATTLE -- After being one of the teams that employed the fewest defensive shifts in baseball the past few years, the Mariners have maneuvered their infielders far more under new manager Scott Servais and general manager Jerry Dipoto this season.

According to a study by ESPN researcher Mark Simon, the Mariners have gotten the best results from their defensive shifts of any team in the Majors to date.

Simon's study, released on his Twitter account on Tuesday, said the Mariners had saved 15 runs this season by employing the shift, the most in the Majors, followed by the Rockies (14), Padres (13) and Rays (12).

Seattle also was No. 1 in runs saved per 100 shifts employed at 2.69, indicating the club is using its shifts efficiently. The Rays, long renowned for their use of shifts, were second in that category at 2.48. The median of MLB teams was four runs saved overall and 0.74 runs saved per 100 shifts.

Simon's research also indicates that their opponents' batting average on ground balls and line drives when the Mariners employ a full shift has been .175, compared to .218 when in a partial shift and .279 when they don't shift at all.

Servais said he planned to share the results of Simon's work with Mariners players to reinforce the value of what they're doing, particularly with pitchers who sometimes wonder about the effectiveness of moving defenders.

"Absolutely," Servais said. "Because every ball that goes through, those are the ones they remember. They don't remember the ones you're saving. Those are just outs and you keep moving."


• Chris Taylor wasn't in the lineup at shortstop on Tuesday, a night after he committed two errors in a four-run eighth inning in Seattle's 5-0 loss in his season debut. Servais said the 25-year-old has to find a way to play relaxed going forward and he'll get the opportunity to do so. Shawn O'Malley got the start at shortstop on Tuesday.

"We have a special thing going with our team this year in our clubhouse," Servais said. "Last night's game was disappointing. I know Chris wanted to play better and it didn't happen, but he'll get other chances."

• Right-hander Andrew Moore, a second-round compensatory Draft pick last year out of Oregon State, was promoted Tuesday to Double-A Jackson after posting a 3-1 record and 1.65 ERA in nine starts at Class-A Bakersfield.

• The Mariners also promoted right-hander Nick Neidert, their top Draft pick last year (the 60th overall pick in the second round), from extended Spring Training to Low-A Clinton. Neidert, a 19-year-old from Georgia, made his debut for the LumberKings on Tuesday and allowed one run on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts over five innings in an 87-pitch outing against Wisconsin.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.