Over the past 2 seasons, nobody has been a more consistent bat for the Mariners than Kyle Seager. The former third round pick has proved many critics wrong and has not only turned himself into a respectable 3B, but into one of the most underrated players in the game.
After his selection in the 3rd round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, many of the "draft experts" called this pick a massive reach. Seager was touted as a potential Utility Man with very little upside. Fast forward to the current day, and Seager has been, without a doubt, the best bat in the Mariners putrid lineup. In fact, in today’s episode of MLB Network’s " Clubhouse Confidential" ,(a show that focuses on statistical analysis rather than media driven hype) host Brian Kenny named Seager his starting 3b on his "All-Underrated Team". Why did Seager make this team? Well lets put Kyle Seager under the scope.
Kyle Seager is entering his age 26 season. While his traditional career stat line of .260/.325/.418 seems rather unimpressive compared to the games elite 3rd baseman, Seager plays in an extreme pitcher friendly park. If you look at Seager’s slash line away from the caverns of Safeco Field, he boast a rock solid .277/.360/.477. So there is some evidence that suggest that Safeco is suppressing his power numbers. Despite his home struggles , Seager has managed back to back 20 HR seasons.
Seager is also not an eyesore at 3B where he grades out as a league average defender. Seager is also relatively new to the position, his natural position being 2B, but was originally blocked by Dustin Ackley, and now Robinson Cano. Accounting to the fact he is still learning a new position, and is also a very good athlete, there is reason to believe that he might one day become an above average defender.
The easiest critique of Seager seems to be the fact that he has plateaued at the plate. True, his numbers the last 2 seasons are remarkably similar, but does that mean he cant improve at the plate? Of course it doesnt. In fact lets look at some numbers:
Over the last 2 seasons, Seagers K% has stayed steady at 17.5% but his BB% jumped over 2%. He also lowered his O-swing% ( percent of swings of pitches outside the strike zone) by 4 points. But what does all this mean? It means Seager’s plate discipline is improving.
Why does that matter? Its quite simple actually. If a hitter swings at less bad pitches, it means the pitcher must throw strikes to get him out. A ball in the strike zone is a pitch that is more likely to be hit hard than one that isn’t right? Seager’s improving eye could lead to more hard hit balls which means more XBH. If Seager can produce 25 HR instead of 20, he goes from being a good player to a borderline great player.
So what is Mr. Seager worth? Well members of the sabermetric community value 1 win at somewhere between $5-$7 million. Seager’s WAR last season was 3.9 and in 2012 it stood at 3. So by that measure, Seager is worth anywhere between $17.5-24.5 million per year. Clearly, Seager is likely never to garner a contract of that magnitude, but tremendous value can still be had by signing him to a long term deal. A deal in the neighborhood of 5 years at $40-50 million seems very reasonable and its possible that the Mariners could do better than that.
The Mariners have yet to "buy out" a players arbitration years on one of Jack Z’s draft picks, and Kyle seems like a perfect candidate for that. He is just 26 and the future is bright for this one time " Utility Player".