Last night, after the game, Mike Blowers made a point of mentioning how much fun it was watching Brendan Ryan play defense. Now, granted, Blowers didn't have a whole hell of a lot else to talk about, given that Charlie Furbush and Trayvon Robinson were pretty much the only other Mariners to do anything of significance. But Ryan also did make this play, and this play. It was a good night to be watching Brendan Ryan.
Listening to Blowers talk about Ryan got me curious about the Mariners' infield defense. Long story short, I'm in a rush, so here's how the Mariners' defense has done against groundballs:
- Mariners, .448
- Rays, .449
- Blue Jays, .451
- Angels, .456
- Nationals, .460
- Average, .493
- Angels, .217
- Blue Jays, .218
- Mariners, .218
- Rays, .220
- Reds, .221
- Average, .236
This doesn't include errors, but the Mariners haven't been especially error-prone. It's strongly suggested, then, that the Mariners have featured one of the top infield defenses in baseball. Which is good, since they've featured one of the worst infield offenses in baseball. By OPS, the Mariners' infield offense is four points out of last place. Bless you, Minnesota!
I'm not sure how much this matters going forward. After all, guys like Jack Wilson, Chone Figgins and Adam Kennedy have put in a lot of innings over the season, and they're either gone or not likely to play much. But then, Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Ryan have been staples, and so the data is encouraging.
At worst, we can at least say that the Mariners have featured a good overall infield defense in 2011. At best, we can use this information to be encouraged about the future. It'll be interesting to see where these numbers are in three weeks, when the season's done. One imagines we'll see a lot of Smoak, Carp, Ackley, Ryan and Seager. If the BABIP remains just as low, then, hey, great.
The 2011 Mariners haven't had a lot of strengths, but infield defense has been one of them. And with Brendan Ryan at the core, there's a chance that could carry over into the future. Neat!