Photo: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire

The Mariners infield is turning grounders and bunts into outs at a 77% rate, which ranks 3rd-best overall. The outfield is turning balls hit in the air into outs at a 63% rate, which ranks 5th in MLB.

When we consider the skill of their defensive players, the Mariners do alright in Defensive Runs Saved. But when you factor in how they position their players, it takes their defensive performance to a different level.

They have average skill. They rank 16th with just their fielder totals for Runs Saved. But when you factor in defensive positioning, they rank 7th.

That’s why it’s important to know that the Mariners rank 1st when we combine their Infield and Outfield Positioning Runs Saved into one stat, Defensive Positioning Runs Saved (you can find these stats here). Their defensive positioning across all positions has been vital to their first-place standing in the AL West.

In Defensive Positioning Runs Saved, if the out probability increases when positioning is known, the team receives a credit based on how much it increased. If the out probability decreases when positioning is factored in, the team earns a debit based on how much it decreased. The credits and debits are subsequently converted to run values.

There are plenty of examples of defensive positioning helping the Mariners this season. There’s this one, a play on which positioning increased the out probability of this inning-ending double play ball for J.P. Crawford from 12% to 56%. This one is a different type of double play for Jorge Polanco, with positioning increasing his out probability from 34% to 78%. And here’s one for Ty France where defensive positioning took the out probability from 62% to 100% because he was stationed so well for this rocketed line drive.

Julio Rodríguez has been a beneficiary of good positioning in the outfield several times. Here’s one on which the out probability increased from 26% to 74%. We’d be remiss if we didn’t show you this catch by Luke Raley, who given his initial stumble wouldn’t have made the catch if he weren’t in the path of this fly ball, on which positioning increased the out probability from 54% to 91%.

There’s some history here. The Mariners ranked 8th in Infield Positioning Runs Saved last year, the first in which full shifts were banned, and 11th in Outfield Positioning Runs Saved last season. And in 2022, we wrote about the Mariners and their outfield positioning success.

Here’s the list of the team leaders in Defensive Positioning Runs Saved this season.

Defensive Positioning Runs Saved Leaders

Team Infield Positioning Runs Saved Outfield Positioning Runs Saved Positioning Runs Saved
Mariners 9 3 12
Dodgers 4 6 10
Padres 7 3 10
Braves 4 6 10
Reds 8 1 9
Blue Jays 8 1 9
Cardinals 6 3 9