Kyle Seager: Just As Advertised

Entering the season, a typical projection for Kyle Seager was about 75 runs, 20 home runs, 75 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and a .260 average. What we got was slightly better – 71/25/96/7/.268. Headmaster Sanders pegged that line as worth $16, making him the fifth most valuable third baseman. FantasyPros had his average cost at $11 with a high of $16. Basically, you got what you paid for with Seager.

It feels a little ho-hum to run the analysis on a guy who did as expected. I recall some skepticism in March about his true talent level. That’s why his price tag was affordable on draft day, and it’s why he’ll potentially be overpriced next season. He now has about three and a half seasons of utter consistency. Our only concern is injury (everybody is an injury risk), and he’ll be entering his age 27 season completely healthy.

I chose to write about Seager because I enjoyed owning him, but there aren’t many hooks for analysis. Seager was useful in both roto and H2H leagues with his consistent month-to-month production. His running game could be a problem. He swiped seven bases against five caught stealings. Despite a willingness to run, he’s never actually been productive while doing so. The Mariners may finally flash the red light. That leaves him with three strong categories and a decent batting average.

Seager generally hit fifth after the club acquired Kendrys Morales. Clearly, Lloyd McClendon likes to keep Seager separated from Robinson Cano. Fantasy owners can’t be happy about Seager hitting fifth, but it doesn’t seem like a situation that will change. Perhaps Cano will move up to second in the order so Seager can bat fourth, or maybe Seattle will fail to find somebody to replace Morales. We’ll have time to calibrate our expected lineup in March. For now, I think Seager will probably hit fifth again. At least he’ll continue to drive in runs.

Slogging through the PITCHf/x data found on BrooksBaseball reveals the typical. He’s a fastball hitter (see below). His plate discipline is a plus – he swings at about five percent fewer pitches than the league average hitter. He also makes substantially more contact than average. The end result is a moderate average hitter with power and a solid on base percentage.

Seager R&A

If there’s one cause of concern, it’s this spray chart.

Seager Spray

That’s an awful lot of baseballs on the right side of the field. Seager makes for an easy shift target, which could affect his expected BABIP. Despite the chart, I haven’t noticed teams shifting him frequently. His BABIP’s have always hovered around league average, so there is some downside if teams start deploying frequent and/or more effective shifts.

If there’s a second area of concern, it’s his average fly ball distance of 174 feet. That’s right around league average and ranks 184th overall. Such powerhouses as Ben Zobrist, Eugenio Suarez, Albert Pujols, and Derek Jeter share a similar space in the standings. Seager helps himself by hitting fly balls over 40 percent of the time, but 25 home runs is probably the absolute upside.

So, what we have here is a player who did what he was supposed to do. It’s my hypothesis that fantasy owners will be all over the Seager bandwagon next season, which leaves me a little hesitant. While he’s proven extremely consistent, I see a few indications of a lurking downside with little room for improvement. That will make it hard to earn a profit on a Seager pick. Still, expect stability.

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Bobby Ayala

I’m loving these posts highlighting the best at each position, but there are some statements here that I feel need explanation.

1) “Our only concern is injury” -Seager’s only missed 12 games in 3 years and no reports of an injury have come out, unless that’s meant as a blanket statement for all players?

2) “Clearly, Lloyd McClendon likes to keep Seager separated from Robinson Cano.” -As you said, this was primarily after Morales was acquired, and was probably more for Morales’ benefit. Haven’t read anything about McClendon’s preference to keep them separated, and it seems bonkers to suggest Cano would bat 2nd at any point in the near future (unless they acquire a better #3 hitter?)