While there is more to evaluating a player’s defense than the amount of errors they commit, it remains the easiest point of reference and due to their visible, quantifiable nature, also the easiest to mock. That is really what we’re all about. When I say “error-prone Mariners,” surely a few names pop into your head. Some of them are justified, and some of them may just be stuck there because of a particularly memorable error. Are the ones you’re thinking of the same ones the numbers say you should be thinking of? We’re about to find out.
We’ve compiled a top (bottom?) 10 list of the worst defenders in team history based on the frequency with which they goof up in the field. (If you simply go by volume, you end up with good players at the top due to longevity and accumulation and that’s boring and we have no interest in that. Also do not look at Edgar Martinez’s defense.) The minimum innings limit is all the way down to 100, because that’s a mean thing to do. “But Trident Deck,” you say in the whiniest voice possible, “what about small sample size?” To which I say, what about it, coward? This way we will truly see which Mariners defenders are the least trustworthy, no matter the size of the opportunity you give them. Let us begin.
10. Paul Serna – SS
In 1981-1982, Paul clocked 391 and 2/3 innings at SS for the Mariners, and racked up 12 errors. That’s one error every 32 and 2/3 innings. That’s not good, but congrats to Paul for being the least worst on this list.
9. Justin Leone – 3B
Justin manned the hot corner for 242 very sketchy innings in 2004, compiling 8 errors for an average of one every 30.25 innings. Fun fact: If you add in his 8 innings at shortstop that year, that goes up to one every 27.8 innings. Good work, Justin.
8. Dave Cochrane -3B
Another 3B mutilator, Dave matched Leone’s 8 errors but in just 238 and 1/3 innings, for an average of one every 29.8 innings.
7. Tim Beckham – SS
It wouldn’t have been right if the 2019 defense didn’t have a representative on this list. Tim was more than happy to carry the banner, averaging an error every 28.7 innings at shortstop last season. He had 12 of them in 344 and 1/3 innings.
6. Jim Anderson – 3B
Primarily a shortstop, Jim Anderson made the mistake of playing 277 innings at third base in the early 80s. (We’ll get back to his time at shortstop later). He butchered 10 baseballs at the hot corner, one every 27.7 innings.
5. Danny Tartabull – 2B
The Mariners got 274 and 2/3 innings of second base from Tartabull, all but one of which came in 1986. All 10 errors also came in 1986 bringing his average to one every 27.5 innings. Should’ve left him in the outfield, skip. Now we understand why he got traded. See ya later, Danny.
4. Ramon Santiago – SS
Ramon took a short break from the Detroit Tigers in the mid-2000s to come play bad defense for the Mariners. While he has the fewest errors on this list at 4, doing this in only 107 innings gives him an ugly average of one every 26.75 innings. They always get
better when they leave worse when they arrive.
3. Danny Tartabull – SS
Coming in at third place on our list is — heyyy wait a second. Danny, when I said “see ya later” I didn’t mean let’s see you two places further down our list. Get it together, man. The Mariners had Danny start 17 games at shortstop. They should not have done that. With 6 errors in 160 innings, Danny gets the distinction of being the worst shortstop on the list, committing an error every 26.7 innings.
2. John Mabry – 3B
Now it gets really ugly. There are a few different things you can do with John Mabry, none of them great, but the worst thing you can do is put him at third base. In 292 and 1/3 innings, ol John stacked up 12 errors. That is one every 24.4 innings. That is too many! John, stop that!
1. Shane Turner – 3B
Shane had minimal opportunities to do damage, but that didn’t stop him from trying. Turner bungled a baseball once every 24.2 innings as the M’s third baseman, with 5 in only 121 innings. Would he have improved these numbers with more chances? Maybe, but if you blow it, you blow it. Don’t come back, Shane. We don’t love you.
Let’s look at some players who didn’t crack this top 10, but were still really bad.
Jim Anderson – SS
Remember we said we would get back to Jimbo’s shortstop play? Well, here he is. In 933 innings at short, Anderson had 27 errors. Bruuutal.
Michael Morse – SS
Speaking of shortstops, remember this little experiment? Morse logged 453 innings there before being put out of his fielding misery. He had 12 errors there.
More Honorable Mentions
Let’s take the innings totals up a bit. Here’s a few guys who got a lot more opportunities to fail. Probably too many, if we’re being honest.
Harold’s older brother (do not fact check) had 57 errors in 2,348 innings. It’s fine, the Mariners didn’t know any better yet.
Rey put together an impressive run, accumulating 60 errors in 2701 and 2/3 innings at shortstop. That may seem like a pretty long leash, but it’s not like the 1987 Mariners had someone waiting in the wings.
As the Mariners drifted through their early 80s wasteland, Todd Cruz was there, collecting 37 errors in 1749 and 1/3 innings. Known as the Tony Stark of the infield (do not fact check this either), Todd was always inventing new ways to not complete a play in the field.
Honor these men. They tried their best, presumably. Maybe they just needed a little more practice. Or maybe a lot more. Just keep these names in mind if you ever find yourself tied to a chair with an assailant pressing a weapon against your head, demanding that someone cleanly field a ball and throw it to first. Where is Brad Miller when you need him, anyway?
All stats pulled from Fangraphs. https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=100&type=0&season=2019&month=0&season1=1977&ind=0&team=11&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&startdate=1977-01-01&enddate=2019-12-31&sort=8,d&page=6_30