As the Cactus League drones on the Mariners are faced with more and more questions about their lineup. Whether its the outfield, first base, even on the mound, there’s a lot of question marks about the opening day roster. Everywhere you look there’s a battle for a spot.
Well, almost everywhere.
Kyle Seager is a lock for third base. And with good reason, last season he turned in a pretty good card. 2013 was Seager’s second full season, and he didn’t disappoint, he posted a triple slash of .260/.338/.426 and was instrumental in providing run support over the season. Seager led the team in runs (79), and was second to only Kendrys Morales with RBIs on the season (69). He was good enough to post an oWAR of 10.3, so there’s no doubt that the Mariners are very, very happy with him.
Now that we know what he’s capable of, the next step is going to be getting him back into the swing of things to amp up the run production. So far this spring we have seen Seager hitting early in the lineup, but don’t be surprised to see him get moved down a little bit once the big-leaguers are all slid into position.
Last week Patrick said that Dustin Ackley is on the cusp of breaking out, and if he can keep his red-hot spring going, he’s definitely going to find himself with a leadoff spot. Of course, we can’t forget about Robinson Cano, who will be taking the third spot in the lineup and will hopefully drive in the leading off Ackley. The bats of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison would be great cleanup bats if they can get back to their pre-surgery form. And there’s always the possibility of Morales making a return to the Northwest.
All of this to show that the Mariners have the potential to have a deep lineup this year. Having Seager bat 5th would afford a middle of the lineup threat, and would be a potential RBI slot behind the career .824OPS, Robinson Cano. A deep power threat like Seager would make for a dangerous lineup, and theoretically drives in more runs.
Where we need Seager to improve is in the field. Last season he had a .964 fielding average while committing 15 errors, the highest on the team, and only one back of the most errors by a third baseman in the AL. Seager got a lot of action at the hot corner last season, and has managed a three-season average UZR of -3.0 while at third. It’s certainly not horrendous, but with last year’s departure of Brandon Ryan, the M’s are going to be looking for some defensive ability on the left side. Either Brad Miller and Nick Franklin are going to take that spot at shortstop (still waiting on any Franklin trades).
It’s going to be important for Seager to get going early. The road-heavy schedule to start the year isn’t ideal, but if he can make things happen on the road, then I’ll feel better about when the M’s start sticking around home more often. This will be Seager’s third full season in the big leagues, and his opportunity to prove that 2013 wasn’t a fluke.