One element in the Mariners’ effort this spring to improve their baserunning is the Vogelbach Drill, which distills baserunning to its most fundamental element.
"Touch every base," manager Scott Servais explained.
The name is a not-so-gentle jab at rookie first baseman Dan Vogelbach who, in his big-league debut, missed second base Sept. 12 while going from first to third on a Kyle Seager single in the ninth inning of an 8-1 victory over the Angels.
Vogelbach’s gaffe, though, is merely the starting point in addressing a systemic problem.
Simply put, the Mariners were atrocious last season in running the bases, ranking 26th among the 30 clubs (for example) in Fangraphs.com’s all-encompassing baserunning stat (BsR) at minus-12.5 runs below average.
It’s no stretch to suggest poor baserunning last year prevented the Mariners from ending a 15-year postseason drought. This is a club that lost 30 one-run games and wasn’t eliminated from postseason contention until the next-to-last day.
"We will spend a ton of time on our baserunning," Servais vowed. "You’ll see us focus on that. I know that we are probably faster than we were last year, but the middle of our lineup is still the same guys as last year.
"And they’re on base a lot."
Sticking with the BsR metric: Robinson Cano graded at minus-1.8, Kyle Seager at minus-2.0 and Nelson Cruz at minus-3.3. That ranked 138th, 142nd and 171st among the 203 players with at least 400 plate appearances.
Help seems to be on the way.
Left fielder Jarrod Dyson rated plus-5.4 last season at Kansas City, while shortstop Jean Segura was plus-5.1 at Arizona. They join center fielder Leonys Martin, who topped the Mariners last season at plus-4.6.
Also notable are some departures: outfielder Seth Smith (minus-2.4), first baseman Adam Lind (minus-2.7) and first baseman Dae-Ho Lee (minus-4.6).
"All the information that StatCast has available," Servais promised, "we’re going to use it. Then just show it to the players. I’m a big believer that if a player is not good at something, just show it to him.
" These are big-leaguers. They’ve been doing this a long time. You’ll see us doing some different drills on the field (Wednesday) that you haven’t seen before."
It only starts with the Vogelbach Drill.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners