We all make mistakes. I thought Chone Figgins would be a useful outfielder for a minute (no, Meg). I wore parachute pants in the late 90's (I'm a genie in a bottle in terrible pants). I thought Wisconsin couldn't possibly be that cold in the winter (Introducing: Meg the popsicle Ph.D. student). We all err in our judgment, but it is unusual that such errors in judgment are actually to the benefit of the Seattle Mariners. But boy oh boy are we glad that the rest of the baseball world didn't see what we saw in Kyle Seager. Earlier today, fellow Lookout writer Brendan Gawlowski beautifully described the draft and development process for Seager. Honestly, I don't know why you're reading this. Go read that. I'll wait... ("Runnin' Outta Moonlight" plays for a few minutes)... Oh hi! In 2009, Baseball America's Draft Scouting Reports 1-100 described Our Future Prince thusly, "Featuring an average arm and impressive agility, he's an average defender at third, if not a tick above. Scouts who like him see a Bill Mueller type who doesn't fit the profile but grinds out at-bats and outs in the field. His detractors see him as a safe pick with low upside and a future reserve or utility player." This will not be a serious, loving piece like Brendan's. Instead, it's an opportunity to exclaim, "Oh Kyle!" with some good natured ribbing as you realize just how wrong a lot of scouts were.
In 2010, Conor Glassey's Mariners Top 10 Prospect List for Baseball America ranked Kyle at No. 9, behind luminaries such as Dustin Ackley (still fresh faced), Nick Franklin (oof), Marcus Littlewood (sorry buddy), and Johermyn Chavez (it seemed like a good idea at the time). In discussing Seager's future, Glassey notes, "With questionable range and top prospects Dustin Ackley and Nick Franklin ahead of him at second base and shortstop, Seager profiles best as a utility player."
Before missing a game with food poisoning earlier this year, Seager had played in 192 consecutive games at the hawt corner. Seager might not have had the range or the roster spot for second, but that's just fine. Because he did this.
And this other thing, when he preserved Iwakuma's no-hitter.
This one time, Kyle was a short stop. That was pretty weird.
I struggled to pick particular plays, because he's made so many great stops and throws. In 2014 Kyle won his first Gold Glove. Not bad for a utility player.
In 2010, Kevin Goldstein classified Seager as a three-star prospect, stating, "Other than the bat, Seager's tools are a bit short. He has below-average power with little projection, and while he makes all of the plays on balls he gets to, he's not especially rangy at second base." Goldstein's "Perfect World Projection" for our Sweet Prince? "He could be a second-division starter or good utility player who hits for average." His best tool was hit, while his worst tool was power.
A lot of scouts probably thought we'd see more plays like this than home runs from Kyle
Instead, Seager is the first Mariners third baseman to hit at least twenty home runs in four consecutive seasons. He was the first home grown Mariners position player since Alex Rodriguez to be named an All-Star. Sometimes, he even hits grand slams, like this game tying slam back in 2013 in the 14th inning, the first time in MLB history a grand slam has tied a game in extra innings. And then this game ended right away and we won (no).
Or earlier this year, when Seager won a game in Tampa Bay... twice. This grand slam broke a season long grand slam drought for the Mariners. The home run in 10th made us think our bullpen might be ok (nope).
Or last year, when Kyle went deep twice in one game, including his first career walk off home run, to snap an eight game losing streak and breath life back into the Mariners' season.
In June 2011, Jason Parks, writing for Baseball Prospectus, went about ranking second baseman prospects. To frame the piece, Parks notes, "This list doesn't really feature anyone I would classify as a top-tier talent." Then he turns to young Seager: "He shows some gap power, but doesn't project to clear many fences at the major-league level. He lacks a sexy ceiling, but could develop into second-division starter." Oh Jason, he may lack a sexy ceiling, but that caboose is hardly lacking. Iwakuma no-hitter audience member lady agrees.
Seager has been a 17.4 fWAR player so far in his pro-career. Since 2011, only 6 players have posted higher fWAR at third base than Sweet Kyle. The players on that list? Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, Evan Longoria, Chase Headly, and David Wright. He has more home runs vs. left handed pitching than any lefty this year. And while Kyle hasn't quite escaped the morass of the 2015 Mariners, he's hitting for a better average, slugging more, and striking out less than he did in his 2014 campaign. He's likely to exceed his 2014 home run total. Others have been more heralded but none have shown the talent or consistency of Seager. Kyle is ours and you can't have him. Are you ready for what comes next?
Oh, Kyle is fucking ready.
Go M's and long live our Sweet Prince.