Kyle Seager has been remarkably consistent over his now seven-year MLB career. The Mariners have been able to count on a slash line around .260/.330/.450 with at least 20 home runs and 70 RBIs, plus Gold Glove-caliber defense from their third baseman. He was even better over the past three years, posting WARs higher than in his first three years. So far in 2017, however, Seager has looked more like the 2011-2013 version of himself, struggling to follow up on a career year in 2016.
With the midway point of the season nearing, Seager entered Wednesday hitting .250/.324/.403 with eight home runs, prompting 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” to ask Mariners manager Scott Servais what has been holding back the one-time All-Star.
“He’s hit a lot of balls in the air that have kinda died in center field or into left-center, and when Kyle’s going good he’s staying behind the ball, pulling the ball with authority,” Servais said from Safeco Field ahead of Seattle’s homestand finale against Philadelphia. “That’s why teams shift him, cause when he’s hitting the ball good he does go to the pull side. You see a couple really good games and you think he’s gonna get hot for you, and it just hasn’t kinda kept going.”
Seager’s career has been marked by a tendency for streakiness at the plate, as he has been known to post months where he flirts with an OPS of 1.000 or more. That hasn’t happened yet this year, though, as his highest OPS in a month in 2017 is .767 in May, which is well behind the career-best .859 he posted for the entire 2016 season.
Servais said he isn’t concerned that Seager won’t eventually catch fire and start putting up All-Star caliber numbers like the other two members of Seattle’s big three hitters in the middle of the order, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz.
“He’s a big part of our offense, the big three in the middle,” Servais said. “The thing that has allowed that to happen is their consistency over the years, and at the end of the year you look up and I know Kyle is going to get hot. It has happened to him every year of his major league career, the Kyle Seager streak comes together, and right or wrong we usually take off when that happens.”
Something that Servais believes will help Seager get back on track is the way he approaches both his at-bats and the game of baseball in general.
“The one thing about him, he probably has the shortest memory of anybody on our team,” Servais said. “Kyle understands his swing and what teams are doing to him and has a really good feel to it and understands it. … Kyle is a proven hitter in this league.”