Coming into spring training, the Mariners all but handed the starting 3B role to free agent bust, Chone Figgins. They promised him his old lead off position atop the lineup and they said he would get every opportunity to prove that he his past two seasons were flukes. They insisted that inside that husk of what was once a valuable player, was something worth holding onto. Kyle Seager was an after thought, a mere possibility for a utility infielder.
Even the best laid plans often fall by the wayside and this “plan” that Wedge instated for creating a resurgent Chone Figgins was never a good one. Figgins is being paid a lot of money, and money often drives people to make curious decisions. Decisions such as handing a negative WAR player an unearned starting position. Seager however, earned his way into the roster and even with his fluctuation at the plate this season, has continued to justify his presence in the majors. Seager has done more on the diamond than this season than anyone could have ever expected. A small tweak in his swing has generated an enormous jump in power, Legitimate power I might add, with exactly half of his home runs exceeding the 400 ft threshold and four of them going over 420 ft. But other than his jump in power has Seager really transformed himself into a different player?
Kyle Seager 2011: .258/.312/.379 — 3 HR — 17.9 K% — 6.5 BB% — .121 ISO
Kyle Seager 2012: .249/.312/.406 — 17 HR — 17.1 K% — 7.7 BB% — .157 ISO
Other than power, this Seager is nearly identical to the Kyle Seager of old. He doesn’t draw walks, he has poor on base skills, and he isn’t terrible when it comes to strike outs, but he isn’t good either. Other than his ability to turn on a ball, he hasn’t really changed at all. Not to downplay the impressiveness of suddenly learning how to shillelagh a baseball over 400 ft, it is an impressive feat, but no other facets of his game have even seen marginal improvement.
Regardless of how similar Kyle Seager is to last year’s Seager, power has the ability to change everything. It is a extremely important aspect of a players game, especially one who mans a position that historically expects a decent amount of power. But what we must ask ourselves if Kyle Seager should be indefinitely penciled in for the starting 3B next season. What he has put together this season, teetering on the edge of building 3 WAR, playing respectable defense, and injecting a bat that can really hurt the opposition if they make a mistake, all that has to be taken into consideration when searching for an upgrade. Kyle Seager has impressed many this season–a dramatic jump in power will do that–however, we shouldn’t get distracted by the shiny number of homers next to his batting average, Kyle Seager has many aspects of his game that he still needs to improve upon if he plans on staying an everyday baseball player.