FanPost

The Kyle Seager Problem

Kyle Seager is good. In his first time starting a season with a big league club, Seager has batted .281/.303/.438 with an OPS of .741. All of these numbers would surely be higher if a certain second base umpire hadn't called a ball caught off a bounce by Yoenis Cespedes an out, but that sort of stuff happens often in the game of baseball. Fans just have to live with it and move on. No good to dwell on a lost problem, even if the stats would be higher if Seager had gotten the call.

Mike Carp is the starting Left Fielder for the Mariners, and his defense is below average. Chone Figgins has been the primary Left Fielder in his absence, though at the time of writing this, Figgins has been scheduled to start in Center for Saturday's game against the A's. Casper Wells is in Left, and Seager is in the lineup, playing Third Base, Figgins' primary position. Though Figgins is a utility player, who has been touted to be able to play all positions except Catcher, First Base, and Pitcher, Third Base is Figgins' comfort zone and where he has started for most of his career with the Mariners, when he has started.

However, Carp's absence has let Figgins play Left Field and Seager to play Third Base; When Carp comes back to the lineup, Wedge will not sit his leadoff man Figgins. Figgins has simply too much "veteran grit" and, while he has been successful, Seager obviously has the brighter future with the club. I'm not calling for Figgins' head here, though I might have been singing a different tune a couple seasons ago (see 2010-2011). Contrary to his past seasons with the Seattle Mariners, Figgins has hit .270/.308/.378 with an OPS of .686, doing much better at getting on base and drawing walks than his last two seasons. Carp will start in Left Field, as he has only played in one game for the 2012 season at Left Field, half of which he played injured.

Carp, if last year is any indicator, can provide the power needed to give this lineup a needed boost. At one point in last year's season, Carp exploded for a twenty game hit streak, in which he was basically the entire Mariner offense, concluding the month of August by winning the Rookie of the Month award. Let's run down the starters that Wedge likes to run out there on a consistent basis in Carp's absence.

Typical Lineup:

Figgins LF (S)

Ackley 2B (L)

Ichiro RF (L)

Smoak 1B (S)

Montero DH (R)

Seager 3B (L)

Saunders CF (L)

Olivo C (R)

Ryan SS (R)

And the lineup guys on the DL:

Carp LF (L)

Gutierrez CF (R)

This means we have two guys filling in for Carp and Gutierrez, and those are Chone Figgins and Michael Saunders. Saunders will probably be back on the bench when Gutierrez comes back, unless Saunders can get hits more consistently. Chone Figgins, for reasons mentioned above (see leadoff man, veteran grit, utility guy), won't be going out of the lineup; instead, someone else will be. As Kyle Seager occupies Figgins' primary position at Third, Seager may look like a candidate to go. But Seager has outhit most of the Mariners this year, and has yet to slow down. If Seager can maintain his hot streak through Carp's rehab stint in Tacoma, which I expect will last around one to two weeks, Seager should rightfully keep his starting job. But, if Carp comes back, where would Wedge play him? I will analyze this after the jump.

There are many different lineup combinations that Wedge can throw out there. Some may argue that Wedge hasn't put his best lineup out there on the field yet, and, with the absence of Carp, he hasn't. Here, we will look at some ways that Seager can play with Carp in the lineup.

Lineup 1: "The Montero Option"

Figgins LF (S)

Ackley 2B (L)

Ichiro RF (L)

Smoak 1B (S)

Montero C (R)

Carp DH (L)

Seager 3B (L)

Saunders/Gutierrez CF

Ryan SS (R)

Congratulations, Jesus Montero fans/Miguel Olivo non-fans, it's your lucky day. With this lineup, Carp would be able to not be a defensive liability, as he has looked to the eye and stat-wise like a defensive liability. It would instead allow Carp to do what he does best and hit the ball, putting him in the best place to succeed. This lineup moves Miguel Olivo's bat out of the lineup, and while it has been a small sample size in which Olivo has hit .133/.161/.167 with an OPS of .328, Olivo has looked every bit as the swing-happy hitter that he was last year. When he makes contact, the ball pops off of his bat, but this year, he hasn't been making contact, or really driving the ball as he did last year. Seager would be able to stay in the lineup, and Chone Figgins would be able to play where he has been for a good week now, in Left Field, where he hasn't looked bad on defense.

Contrarily, with the above lineup, you could move Smoak to DH and Carp to First if Smoak continues to struggle.

This lineup also allows for Montero, who has a future with the Mariners, to develop as the catcher of the future, with John Jaso being able to fill in as needed, or for tutoring purposes, in which case the lineup would look something like the next lineup I will put up. Though Wedge is opposed to catching Montero often, I don't think he could do much worse than allowing Olivo to catch on most days.

Probability that this lineup happens: 20%

Lineup 2: "John Jaso"

Figgins CF (S)

Ackley 2B (L)

Ichiro RF (L)

Smoak 1B (S)

Montero DH (R)

Carp LF (L)

Seager 3B (L)

Jaso C (L)

Ryan SS (R)

This lineup allows for Montero to still play the "little boy" role in the lineup and allows him to watch an experienced Major League Catcher in John Jaso behind the plate. Wedge, however, seems opposed to playing Jaso, instead wanting to stick with Olivo's power bat. Jaso essentially takes the position of Olivo in this situation, referring to the mentor role, and, while Carp is still in Left Field, Figgins can move over to Center while Saunders figures things out or Gutierrez rehabs in Tacoma. Seager stays comfortable at one of his primary positions at Third, and his bat stays in the lineup, hopefully providing some pop. Though his defense can obviously do better than Third Base, so why not take another struggling bat out of the lineup in Brendan Ryan and move Seager over there?

Probability that this lineup happens: 10%

Lineup 3: "Lack of Wily Ryan"

Figgins 3B (S)

Ackley 2B (L)

Ichiro RF (L)

Smoak 1B (S)

Montero DH (R)

Carp LF (L)

Seager SS (L)

Olivo C (R)

Saunders/Gutierrez CF

Brendan Ryan has been removed from the lineup like he was before, after Wedge cited "accountability" as a factor of why Ryan was not playing. However, with Ryan's struggling bat, it wouldn't surprise me if Ryan gets taken out of the lineup again. This lineup would allow Figgins to move back to Third Base, where he feels most comfortable, and allows Seager to move to Shortstop, where he would replace Ryan. Or, Figgins could move back to Short, allowing Seager to stay at Third. Whichever makes Seager the most comfortable.

Probability that this lineup happens: 35%

Lineup 4: "The Big Switch"

Figgins 3B (S)

Ackley 2B (L)

Ichiro RF (L)

Smoak DH (S)

Montero C (R)

Carp 1B (L)

Seager SS (L)

Wells LF (R)

Saunders/Gutierrez CF

This lineup arguably produces the biggest change, and, while it is the most drastic, it gets the struggling bats of Olivo and Ryan out of the lineup. Figgins is able to move back to his most comfortable position at Third, while Seager takes the spot of Brendan Ryan. Instead of putting Carp back out at Left, where he might struggle as he did last year, you can put Casper Wells out there, where he can actually do quite well at defense. As Smoak has been struggling lately, you take some pressure off of him by letting him become a DH, and you maximize Carp's defensive potential by putting him at First. You allow Montero to develop behind the plate, as Noesi's start tonight proves that Montero has potential as an everyday catcher. I don't expect this lineup very much, if at all, but it might just be the most optimal. Though it might be too drastic, which is why I put this probability very low.

Probability that this lineup happens: 7%

Though whether or not Seager gets into the lineup is based on his performance within these couple weeks that Carp will be down in Tacoma rehabbing. If he peeters out, then Seager might not see consistent playing time. If he does do well, then we have these four options.

Arguably, these are the four best options to play Seager on a consistent basis. While there are obviously more, it's midnight and I literally cannot think of any more. Feel free to list any other options you may have for Seager down below.

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