As we head into 2014, and everyone starts to look at what we need, you of course must start with what you have. When you look up and down the Mariners' roster for guys you know, without a doubt, can and will contribute in 2014—there isn't much there.
Who do you have that you feel genuinely good about? Not just "they're alright there," "they could really contribute" or "I'd like to see how he looks over a full season, with some experience"—but guys you don't even think about upgrading. Who do you have? Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Kyle Seager. Maybe Brad Miller.
But leaving aside Brad Miller's question marks and the potential that he Acklophies in his sophomore season, there are still shreds of doubt with the third individual here—Seager, undoubtedly the Mariners' best current position player.
Here are the numbers most have already seen on Seager. I give the raw ones because Baseball Reference does custom splits best, but the advanced ones tell the same tale.
|August & September||.183||.294||.292|
The obvious answer here, of course, is that he ran out of gas. And that's true, but it may be on account of more than what we see.
What we see is that Seager almost never gets a break. Seager played in all but two of the Mariners' games. When Seager arrived at Angel Stadium on Friday, September 20th and didn't see his name on the lineup card, it was the first time that had happened in 106 games.
But there's another point of data here, one without a known impact. It's something I caught on a broadcast at some point in mid-September and I recently went online to make sure I wasn't hearing things. It was that Kyle Seager, in the heart of playing game after game after game, was doing intensive leg work before each contest. Here's what Shannon Drayer reported:
The past couple of weeks, about two hours before batting practice on an often-empty field, Seager could be seen in the outfield with strength and conditioning coach James Clifford running sprints. Sometimes he is running cones, sometimes he is wearing a harness and pulling Clifford. With a month to go in the season, the finish line in sight, Seager is still working.
"It is just something to try to continually work on running faster," he told me Wednesday. "I am never going to be a burner, I am never going to be a plus runner but you can always improve on what you have."
The article was published on September 6th and while "a couple weeks ago" doesn't quite line up with when it appeared Seager began to slump, it's awfully close.
I don't bring this tidbit up as some piece of detracting commentary towards Seager, it's really anything but. Seager, like the team, was working on making himself better for the future while the season was all but gone. Did it have an impact? You can't say for sure—but having less energy than normal, especially in the legs, might explain the .200-point drop in slugging.
Most of us weren't overly concerned with Seager's slump, as he's shown he's capable of much better, but for those who did and didn't think there was something more to it—you can add this to the list of reasons why you shouldn't worry about Kyle Seager.