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Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto details why he’s encouraged by lineup, defense

Leadoff hitter Mitch Haniger leads the Mariners in both slugging and isolated power. (Getty)

The Mariners may be 11-7 to start the season and fighting with the red-hot Oakland Athletics for first place in the American League West, but there is still a lot to figure out about the team.

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With Seattle preparing for a big road trip that starts Thursday with the opener of a four-game series in Boston against the AL East-leading Red Sox, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant for his weekly Thursday visit on the show and shared a few things he finds encouraging about his team.

You can listen to the full Jerry Dipoto Show at this link or in the player below. After that, let’s take a closer look at what stood out from the interview.

Does the Mariners’ lineup have enough power?

Entering the series in Boston, the Mariners have 19 home runs, tied for 19th in MLB and 10th in the AL. But as Dipoto explained, Seattle isn’t focused on just the times the ball leaves the ball park when it comes to measuring how much power the lineup has.

“We look at an ‘ISO’ number – your isolated slug number, which is roughly just the damage that you do,” he said. “I think you see a number of our players that have excelled in that area, and then there are others who just haven’t.”

According to MLB.com’s very useful glossary, the isolated power statistic “measures the raw power of a hitter by taking only extra-base hits – and the type of extra-base hit – into account.” So while Mitch Haniger leads the Mariners in standard slugging percentage at .575, when you take singles out of the equation, his ISO is .260, which still leads the team and is 33rd in baseball. (Click here to see Seattle’s ISO numbers.)

So what is Dipoto seeing from the Mariners in that regard?

“I think as a lineup, if you have players like Mitch Haniger, Ty France and Taylor Trammell, who has really excelled in terms of the ISO damage, Kyle Seager, and you add to that Kyle Lewis, (the lineup is) starting to get a little bit longer,” he said. “We feel players like Evan White and Dylan Moore are probably not too far behind as they start to turn that corner. I don’t know that we would ever traditionally measure it by simply homers… but we can ISO. We can get into good counts, we can take our walks, and we can do damage when we get in those counts whether it’s a double, it’s hard-hit balls or it is in fact home runs. That’s the goal, is just to do as much damage as we can when we get into positive counts.”

‘A really good defensive team’

The Mariners didn’t have the cleanest start defensively to the year, but you wouldn’t have known it during their recent two-game split with the defending world champion Dodgers in which Seattle didn’t make a single error had multiple highlight reel plays with their gloves – the most notable coming from utility man Dylan Moore and first baseman Evan White.

Dipoto is high on what his team can do on the field, especially after knocking off some of the rust early in the season.

“We think we have a really good defensive team,” he said. “… I will say that we have an athletic team. I think you saw it the last homestand with some of the things this team can do defensively. The start of this season, for a number of reasons we got off to a slow start defensively somewhat. We had a couple of players playing out of position and we had at least one or two players who were uncharacteristically error-prone for a short period of time. We don’t think that’s a lasting factor with our team moving forward.”

When you go down the list of the Mariners’ players, which includes three players in the infield who have won Gold Gloves, it adds up that Seattle’s defense should be a strength this year.

“We’ve got a couple of (2020) Gold Glovers on the roster in Evan and J.P. (Crawford), we think Dylan Moore is a plus defender wherever you put him, and thank goodness he was playing second and third in that Dodgers series. Kyle Seager’s a former Gold Glover, Taylor Trammell actually, even in the small sample, has graded out quite well as a center fielder and that bodes very well for us as he moves primarily to left. Kyle Lewis was a positive defender for us in center field a year ago; we see no reason for that stop. And similarly with Mitch Haniger, he’s always been well-regarded as a defender in right.

“We feel like roughly at every position on the field we have a good-to-elite-level defender and again a young, athletic group, so there’s no reason to believe that we shouldn’t continue to improve as the season goes along.”

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