The Mariners’ season is nearly 20% over and has moved past the “it’s early stage.” The biggest surprise so far has been the play of Kyle Seager.
Coming into spring training, Seager needed to play well to solidify a roster spot. He was to share playing time with Chone Figgins at third base and to back-up Dustin Ackley at second base.
The situation changed during the first regular season game in Japan with OF Mike Carp being injured. Figgins moved to left field and that opened the door to Seager at third base. He has not let the opportunity pass him by.
Seager leads all starters on the team with a .298 batting average, 10 doubles, and 20 RBI’s (13 with 2 outs). His numbers are great but they don’t tell the whole story. Seager has been clutch all year, coming up with the big hit, time after time, and playing a solid third base.
Seager has been carrying a lot of the load for the inconsistent offense. Ackley is hitting .238, Michael Saunders .224, Miguel Olivo .210, Chone Figgins .188, Justin Smoak .173 and Brendan Ryan .130. With more than half of the line-up hitting under .238 it could have been another hopeless season offensively for the Mariners if Seager hadn’t stepped up.
During the off-season, Manager Eric Wedge summoned his young core players to Seattle and challenged them to come to spring training prepared and in good shape. Seager answered the bell and reported to camp with 10 pounds of added muscle and has been hitting ever since.
Seager’s play shouldn’t surprise anybody if you look at what he has done in college and the minor leagues. He has always hit. He played second base for the North Carolina Tar Heels with Mariner teammate Dustin Ackley, who played left field. Seager was a second-team All-American from the NCBWA during his sophomore year, and semi-finalist for the Golden Spikes award, hitting .347. He also helped UNC get to the College World Series all three years that he played there.
In 2009, the Seattle Mariners drafted Seager in the third round. Ackley was drafted with the second overall pick and was slotted to become the future second baseman. Seager played his way from the rookie league to the Majors in two years while learning to play third base. In Tacoma, he batted .387 in 108 plate appearances before debuting with the Mariners.
Seager doesn’t look like he is going to slow down anytime soon. He has played his way into the Mariners’ long-term plans. He’s hitting the ball to all fields and is getting more respect from opposing pitchers by seeing more breaking balls earlier in the count. If he keeps hitting at his pace, the All-Star game is a possibility.