Last year, I didn’t believe in Kyle Seager. While he was a refreshing change of pace from the Figgins affair, I felt he was given large amounts of undeserving credit because of it. I never became a fan. He played decent enough, but never well enough to warrant fans cries for a starting slot. Seager was an interesting talent who looked the part of a potentially useful utility player, but that was all he projected to be.
Enter 2012. The 24 year old former second baseman is now in the process of solidifying himself as an everyday figure at the hot corner. After getting off to a steaming start, Seager has yet to take his foot off the gas. His hot start in Arizona has carried all the way through to the frigid cold of the regular season; enter 2012 and I am beginning to believe in Kyle Seager.
We didn’t see a whole lot out of Ackley’s college teammate before this year. During 2011 we saw a converted second baseman attempt to learn several new positions. His defense was passable, his bat was passable, Seager was passable, but never anything special. He lacked an above average skill, a skill that could keep him rooted in the everyday lineup. This year has unraveled a different story, however, as Seager has found his above average skill–power.
I, for one, have found Seager’s recent power surge intriguing. Seager has never displayed an overwhelming ability to drive the ball. Even throughout his time in the minors his best power season came in High Desert, a place we tend to ignore or discredit numbers due to the hitter friendly atmosphere. Seager has never accumulated more than 14 homers, or 40 doubles. He is now on pace to rack up 22 long balls and 43 two-baggers, combined with a staggering .220 ISO… a far cry from any offensive production he has displayed in years past. His recent power surge could be construed as a mere hot streak, or perhaps a fluke, but there is reason to believe that Seager’s recent affinity for driving the baseball could be more real than luck.
Distance. 2 out of 4 of Seager’s bombs have been over the 400 ft barrier and a third fell just two feet short. “Lucky” home run hitters, or players who lack the ability to repeat high numbers of dingers generally have a difficult time surpassing the 400 ft ceiling. For example, Jose Lopez‘s longest shot in his breakout power season was a meager 395 ft. Seager on the other hand has a shot that has gone 446 ft. His power is genuine. All but one of his homers have flown further than the league average of 397.2 ft, and he has yet to receive a “lucky” or “just enough”.
Perhaps what is even more interesting than this new power surge is that Seager predicted it. You tend to take most anything written during Spring Training and throw it out the window. “Best shape of my life”, “renovated swing”, “working on defensive improvements all winter”, etc. All of these themes and rites of spring are meaningless and 90% of the time they have proven to mean nothing at all. It’s just something to write about when news is slow. So while I do remember reading about Seager and his altered swing, I tucked it into the “Useless Spring Stories” folder in my brain. But thank goodness I kept it tucked away because as it turns out, this story wasn’t so useless after all. Seager changed something, added a little tuck, and the results have been paying dividends thus far in 2012. He doesn’t come without his flaws of course, he could certainly walk more and his defense is still somewhat a question mark. Seager isn’t going to stay at the pace he is on. I seriously doubt he is going to put 22 baseballs into the seats this season, although expecting the doubles pace to continue would be a more believable scenario. His performance has been very impressive and Seager is making a believer out of me. I never could have seen this sort of offensive production coming based off his performance in 2011.