After an offseason of ups (Robinson Cano) and downs (Franklin Gutierrez, Hisashi Iwakuma), the Seattle Mariners continue to tear the Cactus League a new one while looking to upgrade. The Mariners have maintained dialogue with designated hitter Kendrys Morales CBS' Jon Heyman reports, though who knows if the talks go beyond, "Hey, that one-year deal look good yet? No? OK."
While the keystone has been upgraded and manager Lloyd McClendon tries to patch together an outfield that can chase down fly balls, one Mariner has had a quiet offseason and may be poised for not necessarily a breakout year but for one of his normal years.
Third baseman Kyle Seager was as recent as two seasons ago relied on as the No. 3 hitter in the everyday lineup. In just fewer than 600 at-bats in 2012, Seager batted .259 with 20 home runs and 86 RBIs. Compare this to 182 at-bats the year before -- his major league debut -- where he slashed .258/.312 (on-base)/.379 (slugging).
After a full season in 2012, he kept a consistent average and increased his slugging percentage to .423, up 50 points from his first look in the majors.
Seager has bounced around in the batting order, batting third, second and fifth. In 2013, the organization brought in Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales, effectively pushing "Silver Bullet" Seager down to fifth in the order. Seager marched through the first half of the season effortlessly. He torched in July hitting a robust .396. As he headed into Aug. 1, his average stood at .300, those double zeros looking ripe for increase.
Then reality set in. Maybe the dog days of summer in a losing season caught up to the youngster. Perhaps Ibanez cooling off put more pressure on Seager. After amassing 38 hits in July, Seager compiled 37 hits combined in August and September.
The batting average would never again see .300 as Seager was burdened with two different 0-for-17s and an 0-19 stretch in September. He ended 2013 with a .260 average, 22 home runs but an underwhelming 69 RBIs.
However, Seager's consistency kicked in with the final stat lines of 2013. Seemingly on cue, Seager ended the year with a .260/.338/.426 line. The on-base percentage kicked up a bit thanks to increased walks while the slugging and batting average were almost identical to the previous year.
Writers, fans and analysts can fawn over Robinson Cano all they want. I don't blame them; I'm excited for the potential good he can provide for the Mariners.
I want to see if Seager can overcome a sophomore jinx.
I wouldn't necessarily call it a sophomore "slump." You need to be Adam Dunn-like to have a slump. Observing his first full year in 2012 and the first half of 2013, it seemed as if Seager was poised for a breakout campaign.
There have been other articles about Seager's collapse in the past few months, and I don't necessarily want to look at the why but the what-will-be. Fangraphs projects the third baseman with a comfortable 22 home runs and 86 RBIs, a 120 wRC+ and 4.5 WAR. The average seems to want to rise, but I can only imagine what projections would be for the low-key Mariner had he not plummeted at the end of 2013.
It appears Seager will be on pace for his usual production with a thankfully increasing OBP. Steamer and Oliver predict a lower RBI total, possibly due to a lower-to-same slugging percentage, but Oliver has the highest walk percentage.
Most stats agree that Seager will be on track for his standard season offensively. His defense fell from 7.0 to -1.3 in 2013, so I'll be watching his defense closely in 2014. His WAR looks to increase overall.
With rotation question marks and outfield concerns, it feels relieving to know that if all else fails, Kyle Seager will continue to be the team's all-out, hard-nosed third baseman. He won't need more seasoning in the minors or a $240 million contract.
After jamming his index finger in the early spring, he's back on the diamond. He projects to be -- at worst -- the Seager we've come to know in the past few seasons.
And that's cool for the hot corner.
What are your projections for Kyle Seager this year? Do you feel the predictions for his advance stats are accurate or below his potential? Should he be signed long-term if he destroys 2014?