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The perception of the Mariners’ Kyle Seager

By Gary Hill

The stealthy Kyle Seager has engineered one of the best offensive seasons in the American League this year as he has been silently terrorizing big-league pitching.

Seager and the Mariners returned home Monday after taking two of three from the Orioles in Baltimore. One of the beauties of the Baltimore series was to watch two of the best third basemen in baseball expertly apply their craft.

Kyle Seager is quietly having one of the best offensive seasons among AL hitters. (AP)

It is difficult to believe that Baltimore’s Manny Machado has been of legal drinking age for only a month. The baby-faced third sacker has captured the attention of the entire baseball world with his eye-popping breakout campaign, including boasting the AL lead in hits and doubles. He earned a coveted bid to the AL All-Star Game and has helped the Orioles contend in their rugged division.

Scouts lusted after Machado’s talents during his high school days in Miami as he drew favorable comparisons to younger versions of Cal Ripken Jr. and Alex Rodriguez. He was drafted third overall in 2010 behind Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Jameson Taillon of the Pirates. He rocketed through Baltimore’s minor-league system before vaulting over Triple-A and landing in Baltimore last season. The high-profile Machado has received national acclaim from coast to coast for his impressive play this season.

On the other hand, the attention has been slow to roll in for Seager. He was a third-round draft pick out of North Carolina in 2009. He was overshadowed in his college career by super prospect Dustin Ackley, who was taken by Seattle in the first round of the same draft. Seager only spent parts of three seasons in the minor leagues as well, but his quick flight through the minors barely sent ripples through the baseball community at large.

Despite popular perception, Seager is actually having a slightly better offensive season than Machado.

Seager: .295/.363/.486, 17 HR, 51 RBI, 27 2B, 44 BB, 63 R
Machado: .296/.326/.456, 10 HR, 52 RBI, 40 2B, 20 BB, 65 R

The point of this comparison is not to take anything away from the season that Machado is having. He is in the midst of a truly special year in every sense, especially considering his young age. The intention is to alert the baseball world to Seager.

The case is easily made that Seager is actually having a top 10 to 15 offensive season in the AL. Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis and Mike Trout have separated themselves as the elite of the league. David Ortiz, Edwin Encarnacion, Adrian Beltre, Jason Kipnis, Joe Mauer and Robinson Cano occupy the next tier thanks to spectacular seasons.

Seager is listed among the next group of standout players this year. He maintains the 12th-best OPS in the league (.849). He is 14th in batting average (.295), 14th in on-base percentage (.363) and 14th in slugging (.486). He has tallied the ninth-most hits (127) in the league along with the 11th-most doubles (27). He is 17th in homers (17) and 12th in runs scored (63).

Here are his numbers in comparison to other high-profile AL hitters:

Kyle Seager: .295/.363/.486, 17 HR, 51 RBI, 27 2B, 44 BB
Evan Longoria: .268/.345/.489, 21 HR, 59 RBI, 24 2B, 50 BB
Prince Fielder: .259/.353/.434, 17 HR, 76 RBI, 23 2B, 57 BB
Dustin Pedroia: .294/.373/.411, 8 HR, 66 RBI, 26 2B, 57 BB
Ian Kinsler: .271/.345/.422, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 19 2B, 34 BB
Albert Pujols: .258/.330/.437, 17 HR, 64 RBI, 19 2B, 40 BB
Ben Zobrist: .276/.362/.401, 7 HR, 53 RBI, 26 2B, 52 BB

As long as comparisons are being made, there is one more to come. Seager is 1,334 plate appearances into his big-league career, which spans parts of three seasons. Here is a look at the start of his career compared to an all-time Mariners legend:

1,334 PA, .272 BA, 328 H, 40 HR, 150 RBI, 75 2B, 150 RBI, 103 BB
1,494 PA, .296 BA, 380 H, 27 HR, 131 RBI, 76 2B, 131 RBI, 181 BB

Those 1,494 plate appearances belonged to the first few seasons of Edgar Martinez’s career.