My Guy: Mariners 3B Kyle Seager Will Bounce Back
We conclude our “My Guy” series with one the second longest tenured Mariners player: Kyle Seager. Following a “sub-par” season, Seager needs to be great for Seattle in 2018, or it could be his last in a Mariners uniform.
For years, part of the Mariners Spring Training experience has included listening to Mike Blowers and Dave Sims predict that this was the year Kyle Seager would finally hit for average. After all, Seager has the discipline and contact ability to do so.
In fact, many Mariners fans might be surprised to learn this. In his career, Seager has a solid 8.5% walk rate. He also has an impressive 16.7% strikeout rate. In today’s game of swinging big, any K% under 20% is impressive.
In 2017, Seager posted his lowest batting average in his career. He also posted his lowest OBP since 2012, his first full season the big leagues. The natural conclusion is that Seager must have swung and missed at more pitches, right? Actually, he had a very Kyle like season in that regards, posting an 8.9% BB rate and a 16.9% k rate.
So why did he hit just .249 in 2017? An easy answer lies in his BABIP(Batting Average on Balls In Play). Seager post a career .285 BABIP, but in 2017, it dropped to .262. So Seager was just unlucky right?
No, Kyle Seager’s BABIP mystery is fairly simple to solve. Kyle Seager struggled in 2017 because he became too flyball heavy. Seager was a victim of the “fly ball revolution”. His 2017 FB% was 8% higher than his career pace. Typically speaking, the higher a players fly ball rate, the lower his BABIP.
So why am I so optimistic about Seager’s return to form in 2018? Well, it is easy for some fans to forget this, but here is a little secret for you: Kyle Seager is an incredibly good and consistent baseball player.
Lets not forget, that it was just 2 season’s ago that Kyle Seager was an All-Star player. In 2016, he set a career high in HR (30), Runs(89), RBI (99), BA (.278), OBP (.359), and slugging (.499). All of this, combined with his usual solid defense, was good for a 6.9 bWAR, just below MVP consideration.
Seager is still in the middle of the typical “prime years arch”, and his skill set has shown no diminishing skills. So why can’t Kyle Seager return to his 2016 year self, or be even better? The answer is probably recency bias.
The last time we saw Kyle Seager, he was a slightly above-average MLB player. But over the course of his career, Seager has proven to be more than that. He is durable, a solid defender, has good pop, a quality approach at the plate, and an insane work ethic. All of which are indicators of a hitter with the ability to bounce back.
Early this spring, we are seeing a slight change in his approach. He has shortened the swing a bit, and is beginning to hit the ball to the left side of the infield more. Whether he carries this into the regular season remains to be seen.
If he does, perhaps Blowers and Sims will finally get the .300 BA they seem to covet. However, a true breakout season isn’t just about batting average. Seager needs to best his 2016 numbers, especially if the Mariners have any chance of competing in 2018.
But Kyle Seager is still Kyle Seager. And in what might be his final season with the Seattle Mariners, I wouldn’t bet against him going out with a bang. Seager will have a huge 2018, and since he is “My Guy”, you can take that to the bank.