September 4, 2013
Decoding the Safeco Paper
Yesterday afternoon, this image made the rounds on Twitter:
That paper—which served as a cheat sheet of sorts—was taped inside the visitor's dugout at Safeco Field, presumably by the Rangers. Each Mariners player is accompanied with information that, when known, can influence in-game strategical decisions.
Most of the categories are straightforward: Raul Ibanez has a below-average arm, Endy Chavez is a willing bunter and basestealer, and so on. The infield and outfield alignment columns are the vaguest on the page, and therefore the most intriguing. Perhaps each number stands for a code, but it seems more likely that they represent a base. Ibanez, for instance, is an extreme pull hitter, hence why the Rangers would play him toward first base, or "1" in this case. The same methodology would work for Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales, who are played to pull toward third base ("3") or first base ("1") depending on which side of the plate they stand.
Unfortunately, the outfield alignment section is tougher to crack. The two options, S and SO, could mean a number of things—standard, shade over, shift over, and what have you—and it's not unheard of for some outfielders to carry cheat sheets of their own with them onto the field.
There's nothing top secret on the page, and that explains why no Ranger plucked the page before leaving town. Still, it is interesting to look at for a few minutes.
Hat tip to the kind folks at Lookout Landing