Okay, you win, Kyle Seager — I was wrong.
Despite the Seattle Mariners third baseman putting up a 3.6 fWAR season in his first full season in 2012, it wasn’t exactly easy to be a long-term believer of the then 24-year-old. Sure, he’d displayed a tantalizing power/speed combo with 20 home runs and 13 stolen bases, but it was his meager on-base percentage that represented a wall in the future, rather than a path continued development (see: Starlin Castro).
Well, as it turns out, Seager is something of a wall-climber.
It’s funny, really. Between all of the guys that the Mariners brought in to help the offense (Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse … even Raul Ibanez) and all of the former top prospects who have failed on the way thus far (Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley), the leader of the team’s offense is, of course, the relatively-unheralded third baseman.
Not that he’ll remain unheralded for long at this rate, though.
Currently on a 10-game hitting streak that’s seen him put up a .322/.364/.525 triple slash over the last 10 days, Seager is on a bit of a tear in early June. Including his 2-for-4 performance on Thursday against the New York Yankees, he now has a pair of multi-hit games in a row, and has hit a pair of doubles and a homer in that span.
To put it in context: the 25-year-old had half of his team’s total hits against the the Bronx Bombers, and drove up the team’s only run of the game.
Yes, it’s been that kind of year for Seager, who has a nifty .287/.352/.483 triple-slash and leads his M’s team with 2.3 fWAR and 31 runs runs scored. If there is a knock on his success, it might be that all the getting on base and hitting is causing him to put his speed tool on the side, as he’s just 2-for-5 in SB attempts thus far.
Now, the cynic in me will point out that his .322 BABIP does suggest a little extra help from the baseball gods, considering that Seager’s line drive rate hasn’t really spiked (22.5 percent compared to 21.9 percent), and he’s hitting more pop-ups (10.7 percent) and infield hits (8.6 percent) than ever.
That said, there’s some legit improvement being show here too. The hot cornerman has taken significant strides in his pitch recognition, taking fewer hacks at outside pitches (23.8 percent vs. 28.1 in 2012) and is taking more of a patient swing approach overall (40.1 percent vs. 47.6 in 2012).
As a result, he’s whiffing less (7.0 percent swinging strike rate) and walking more (9.0 percent walk rate), which allows him to put his power (.196 ISO, 10.7 HR/FB) to good use when he does see a pitch that he can hammer.
So while it might be reasonable to expect a slight drop-off, Seager is not likely to fall too far; even then, he’s headed for what might even be a 4.0-plus fWAR season, which is fringing on star territory.
Or, like me, you can just keep setting the drop steeper and steeper (out of spite) and wait for him to continually prove you wrong — your call.