Kyle Seager On Pace for 6 WAR
... as is Evan Longoria (ahem)


Earlier this year, we'd noted that Kyle Seager had become a pitch stalker:

Season Swing % Outside-Zone Swing %
2011 (200 PA) 48 30
2012 47 28
2013 40 23

In his first 1.3 seasons, Kyle Seager's zone management had been solidly ML average.  Now then, in 2013, he's become next-to-impossible to catch fishing.

Pablo Sandoval swings at 48% of balls, not 23%.  Adam Jones and Howie Kendrick swing at more than 40% of pitches that miss.  Albert Pujols and Ichiro swing at 36%!  And here Seager is, down to 23%.  The majority of players who can match him are little tiny leadoff hitters who take pepper swings, like Denard Span, or true "pitch stalkers" like Adam Dunn, who doesn't mind striking out 222 times in a season due to the many called strikes he accepts.

Right now, he's the only homegrown Mariner player who is not fazed by a tough definition of success, is not fazed by great pitchers, and therefore is the only homegrown Mariner who can bat in the middle of the order.


Seager's pitch stalking has, if anything, evolved even more in his favor as we move into June.  Here, compare two charts, the first from 2012 and the second one from May 1, 2013 to date:

Notice, for example, how few green dots in LF in that second image.

If you just joined us, Seager has always had a strange intersection of skills that make it logically impossible* for him to fail:

  • High contact rate
  • Swings very hard
  • Pulls the ball a lot
  • Hits the ball in the air
  • Keeps bat in zone a long time (KBIZLT)

Seager is doing this more as he matures.  For example, his swing-and-miss rate is significantly down this year -- as are his pulled balls.  Does that seem weird to you?  It would be weird, for a hitter to be more ambitious and also to foul up less often, unless the explanation were simply that the hitter was BETTER.

Hey, only in Seattle does it seem unnatural that a young hitter should get better.  In Colorado, they've got Tulowitzki slugging .700 or something.

As a discerning SSI (and Bill James Online) reader, you're aware that a huge part of the Inner Game of Baseball is this attempt to pull a ball in the air.  Seager is progressing in exactly this Inner Game, the attempt to launch a Back Leg Special (BLS).

Don't confuse that with saying "a hitter tries to pull the ball in the air every swing."  No, if an NFL team tried to throw the ball down the field 20+ yards every play, it would be committing suicide.  But the Inner Game of Football still pivots around the downfield throw.


The New Safeco is turning a lot of 2012 outs into 2013 home runs.  Practically the only Mariner not benefitting is Kyle Seager; logically, if the tide lifts all boats except yours, then your boat ends up at the bottom of the harbor.  But the New Safeco factor has been totally irrelevant as his OPS+ has grown from 108 to 132.  It is a reminder to Dr. D that no one variable can ever be allowed to blot out the sun.


One more chart:

2012 .259 .316 .423 3.6
2013 .286 .350 .479 6.2*

Seager's 2.3 WAR are #6 in baseball among third baseman, just behind Evan Longoria and just ahead of David Wright.  At the moment, he's providing the M's a pretty reasonable comp for Longoria.  


Dr D




for me, Kyle Seager has become one of those few players who it is simply a joy to watch. Him and, for the last few weeks, Babe Ruth (disguised as Raul Ibanez).
It is simply amazing to watch a player who is dialed in at the plate amongst a sea of his peers who are flailing away and fighting to survive.

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