After the Mariners Opening Weekend series win against the defending AL Central champions, most of Mariners fandom was jubilant. Yet, in the course of their celebration, an interesting narrative began to develop.
This particular narrative revolves around Mariners great Kyle Seager. There appears to be a rather large contingent of Mariners fans who are angry at Seager, seeing him as a major disappointment for the Mariners.
Nowhere was this feeling voiced more strongly, than on the airwaves of 710 ESPN Seattle. During the Brock and Salk show, regular host Mike Salk and guest host Jesse Jones discussed the Mariners Opening Weekend success.
However, early in their second hour, the duo turned its focus to Kyle Seager. You can listen to the conversation yourself by clicking here, or find the podcast on your preferred app. During the course of this conversation, one thing became abundantly clear: too many Mariners fans have forgotten how great Kyle Seager is.
Nobody is immune from these types of thoughts, particularly when you spend a lot of time around somebody. You become hyper aware of their faults, and begin to focus on those rather than the positives. It happens in the MLB Draft every year. This phenomenon is known as ” Prospect Fatigue”.
Prospect Fatigue occurs when a player has been on the radar for so long that even the scouts who initially fell in love with these players, begin to see the faults of said player more than the initial traits that led to the original infatuation.
On the Brock and Salk show today, Mike Salk decided that only 1 statistic will be needed to determine the type of season Kyle Seager had. His selection? RBI. The problem with focusing on any 1 stat, but specifically RBI is two-fold.
First, what number of RBI show Seager having a “good season”? Is it 85? 100? Or is it more than that? Defining a players entire season because he fell short of an arbitrary number is foolish. In 2016, Kyle Seager had 99 RBI and had his best season of his career. If Seager repeats every other stat from that near MVP level season, but with 10 fewer RBI, did he have a disappointing season?
Second, Kyle Seager has very little control over his RBI total. To suggest otherwise is a complete fallacy. Consider this very plausible scenario. Dee Gordon and Jean Segura reach, Robinson Cano doubles them home, then Nelson Cruz bashes a ball off the wall to score Cano. Seager now has an RBI opportunity.
On a 2-0 count Seager scorches a ball past the shortstop for a base hit, but Nelson Cruz, who is nursing a hamstring injury, stops at 3rd. By any reasonable expectations, Kyle Seager did his job. But a run did not score as a result. Is that really Seager’s fault?
The RBI is an inherently dumb stat to judge any player’s performance. To argue otherwise is to challenge simple logic and mathematics.
In the same segment, Jesse Jones suggested that he may not posses the “intestinal fortitude” to step up when he needs to. Ok, let pretend for a moment, that the same lame ass “clutch” narrative is true (it isn’t). Does Kyle Seager really see his performance dip in run scoring opportunities?
As it was proven by Prospect Insiders Luke Arkins, no it does not:
It’s as clear as black and white. Kyle Seager does not choke in these moments. He doesn’t lack the “intestinal fortitude” to come up big in these situations. Now, does Seager rise to something more than he is in these moments? No. But most players don’t.
The only baseball crime Kyle Seager has committed is that he is consistent. In today’s version of baseball, consistently good is boring. A player must be either consistently elite, or entertaining in today’s game to get any respect.
The simple truth is this: Kyle Seager is underappreciated in his time. He is already the greatest 3rd baseman in franchise history, and is still just 30-years-old. He is making the market for players of his caliber, and his contract is not preventing the team from any moves it needs to make.
There will come a time when a real discussion can be had about whether or not it makes sense for Kyle Seager to be a Mariners. That discussion could come as early as July, if the Mariners find themselves out of contention.
But for now, stop forgetting why you fell in love with Kyle Seager. Simply enjoy him for what he is: A damn good baseball player with an incredibly consistent stat line you can count on year after year.