Mariners Should Go Against the Grain; Move Seager Up

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 16: Kyle Seager #15 of the Seattle Mariners runs back to the dugout after the second inning against the Boston Red Sox during their game at Safeco Field on June 16, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 16: Kyle Seager #15 of the Seattle Mariners runs back to the dugout after the second inning against the Boston Red Sox during their game at Safeco Field on June 16, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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If you are a member of the Mariners fan zeitgeist, you probably have heard hundreds of ideas of how to handle the struggling Kyle Seager problem. Most are ridiculous, but some have a kernel of critical thought behind them.

Most Mariners fans have been realistic with their Kyle Seager solutions. Sure, somebody will tell you to trade him for Manny Machado, but in the real world, there appears to be one common theme: move him down in the order.

In fact, our own Josh Maudell shared that opinion just a few days ago. It’s not a bad plan and is certainly more feasible than the “bench him for Gordon Beckham” crowd. But today, I want to present an alternate plan. Today, let’s discuss moving Kyle Seager UP in the lineup.

Yes, on its surface, lineup construction is a simple concept (unless you are an MLB manager). The higher you hit in the order, the more plate appearances(PA) you should get. With each spot in the lineup you move up a hitter, they gain somewhere between 25-40 PA over the course of 162 games.

With Seager struggling, giving him fewer PA’s seems like the optimal strategy. But remember, the Mariners are, for a lack of a better term, “stuck with” Seager for this season. Until Robinson Cano returns in August, Seager is the only left-handed power bat you have. Even after Cano returns, he won’t be around for the playoff push.

So unless the Mariners bring in a lefty bat to platoon with Ryon Healy, Seager is it. This is a long-winded way of saying you need Seager to hit. My proposal: move Kyle Seager into the 3rd spot for a brief period.

The benefits of the move are 3-fold. First, giving Seager more at-bats in Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Camden Yards gives him more AB’s in these hitter’s paradises. The Mariners have built a nice cushion and can afford to take on this experiment before returning home next week.

Second, moving Seager third breaks up a string of right-handed bats in the middle of the Mariners order. Gordon-Segura-Seager-Cruz-Haniger-Span/Gamel gives you an L-R-L-R-R-L start to the lineup.

Finally, and most importantly, it should give Seager an opportunity to see better pitches. At his current position at 5, Seager is followed in the order by Ryon Healy, Mike Zunino, and/or Denard Span/Ben Gamel. Not exactly threatening.

In addition to putting Nelson Cruz and Mitch Haniger behind Seager, he will also get more PA’s with Dee Gordon and/or Jean Segura on base. Surrounding Seager with speed ahead of him and power behind him might allow him to see more pitches in the zone.

Next: Mariners Trade a Day: Brad Hand

Of course, lineup protection is a bit of a myth. Moving Seager to third might not have any effect on him this season. But the Mariners need Kyle Seager to be better at the plate. And if temporarily inserting him into the third position of the lineup has a 10% chance of working, it is very much worth the risk.

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