Beyond injuries and a puzzling inconsistency from their attack, the Mariners are being pulled down, according to advanced metrics, by their poor baserunning.
They know it.
"How many outs are you making on the bases?" manager Scott Servais asked. "I know in the last two or three weeks that we’ve made more than our share. It’s something that we’ve talked a lot about. How important it is.
"I don’t want to take our aggressiveness away, but you have to know your limits."
The Mariners rank 29th among the 30 clubs in BsR, the baserunning metric compiled by www.Fangraphs.com, which is an industry standard in terms of an gaining a quick assessment of a player’s efficiency on the bases.
The BsR metric generates a "runs above" or "runs below" average in crunching stolen bases, caught stealings, and other baserunning plays (taking extra bases, being thrown out on the bases, etc.).
The Mariners entered Wednesday at minus-13.6 runs.
Only Toronto, at minus-14.3, was worse. Arizona was the best at plus-19.4, while Texas led at American League clubs at plus-16.6. Oddly, Houston, which has the majors’ best record, ranked just ahead of the Mariners at minus-11.7.
"We have not had a good year on the bases," Servais conceded. "It is one of my pet peeves — getting doubled up on a line drive in the infield is a tough one to swallow when you’re not going to score on the play.
"I think you’ve seen a number of guys, on balls off the wall, try to turn a single into a double because they hit the ball so dang hard. We’ve had a few guys thrown out there.
"There have been opportunities, too, to go first to third when the ball is in front of us that we’ve pulled up. It’s a fine line there in how aggressive you want to be. All of those metrics play into that number."
The Mariners’ rating would be far worse if not for Jarrod Dyson, whose plus-5.9 rating ranks fifth in the majors. Only two other active plus are in the plus range: Ben Gamel at plus-2.3 and Taylor Motter at plus-1.4.
First baseman Danny Valencia’s minus-6.0 rating is the second-worst among all 799 players. Only ex-Mariner Kendrys Morales, now with Toronto, is worse at minus-7.2
"Danny doesn’t like to get a big lead," Servais said, "and I think that stops his ability to go from first to third at times. He needs to expand his primary lead a little bit."
The Mariners’ two biggest run-producers, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, are also near the bottom. Cano ranks 768th at minus-3.0, and Cruz is 783rd at minus-4.1.
DAY OFF FOR SEAGER
Mired in an 0-for-14 skid, third baseman Kyle Seager got a day off Wednesday — i.e., he wasn’t in the starting lineup — against Royals left-hander Jason Vargas.
Taylor Motter started at third base.
Seager had started every game since missing three games in late April because of a sore hip. He admits he’s trying to find a comfort zone in his swing.
"You go through film," he said. "You go back to when you felt the best, you look through some of the recent games to try and see differences and stuff like that, and you go into the (batting) cage. You do all of that stuff."
Seager is hitless since going 4-for-5 with a homer on June 30 in a 10-0 victory over the Angels in Anaheim. He is batting .251 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs in 82 games.
"Even when you are getting three or four hits a night," he said, "that doesn’t necessarily mean you are swinging it that good, or feel great. I got four hits the other day, and … two of those weren’t on good swings."
Seager is expected to return Thursday to the lineup when the Mariners open a four-game weekend series against Oakland at Safeco Field.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners
Mariners’ BsR Ratings
(Active on 25-man roster)
Jarrod Dyson plus-5.8 runs
Ben Gamel plus-2.3 runs
Taylor Motter plus-1.4 runs
Mitch Haniger minus-0.4 runs
Boog Powell minus-0.5 runs
Kyle Seager minus-1.8 runs
Jean Segura minus-20 runs
Carlos Ruiz minus-2.1 runs
Mike Zunino minus-2.4 runs
Guillermo Heredia minus-2.4 runs
Robinson Cano minus-3.0 runs
Nelson Cruz minus-4-1 runs
Danny Valencia minus-6.0 runs