BRENT STECKER

Mariners Table Setter: Kyle Seager is cementing his M’s legend status

Sep 6, 2021, 12:50 AM | Updated: 10:48 am
Mariners Kyle Seager...
Kyle Seager delivered key hits in the second and third Mariners wins in Arizona. (Getty)
(Getty)

Kyle Seager has played for the Seattle Mariners for 11 years.

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He’s been an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner. He’s been a perennial thorn in the side of American League West rivals, particularly the Texas Rangers. And he’s been a part of a few good teams that fell just short of ending the Mariners’ long playoff drought.

But for the first time in those 11 years, I think these 2021 Mariners are truly Kyle Seager’s team. And I think he’s shown in the last few weeks that if this team is going to do its own run into the postseason à la the 1995 Mariners (ever heard of ’em?), he’s going to lead them to it.

The M’s wouldn’t be going into yet another gigantic series Monday against the Houston Astros coming off a weekend sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks without Seager. He personally delivered Seattle’s two most recent wins, neither of which came easy. First he crushed a pair of three-run home runs (pushing his career-high homer mark to 33) in an 8-5 victory Saturday, then he smacked the go-ahead hit in the 11th inning Sunday, scoring a pair on a double past Arizona’s first baseman that opened the floodgates to a seven-run rally in a 10-4 win.

Of course, it’s all a bit ironic that now would be the time Seager becomes the star of the show for Seattle.

There’s probably more doubt than hope that the Mariners will bring him back on a final one-year option next season, even though that’s hard to believe when he’s tied for sixth in MLB in homers, tied for seventh in RBIs (93, making his first 100-RBI season all but a certainty), and leads the team in both categories. And sure, his slash line – .218 average, .288 on-base and .454 slugging for a .742 OPS – doesn’t look so pretty, but he’s literally been one of the most clutch players in all of baseball. There is an actual clutch stat, and Seager is eighth in MLB this season according to Fangraphs.

There are clearly signs pointing to the likelihood of Seager not returning to Seattle in 2022, however. They start with disgraced former team president Kevin Mather saying prior to the season that it would “probably” be Seager’s last with the Mariners, and if you’ve been paying close attention to social media this season, you’ve likely seen other hints dropped.

From a purely baseball standpoint, would it be a good move for the Mariners to keep Seager around for another year? Almost definitely. But is the relationship between him and the front office too strained for it to happen? We’ll have to wait and see, but I would think some amends need to be made.

Yet with all that hanging over him and his 34th birthday approaching in November, Seager is playing like an ironman. He’s appeared in all 135 games this season and producing just as much now as he has at any other point in the campaign, even pushing to reach the 40-homer mark. He’s still making great plays at third base. Still providing valuable veteran leadership no matter what his standing with the franchise is. Still delivering the big hit when his team needs one.

This might be Kyle Seager’s last ride in a Mariners uniform. It might also be his best. No matter what happens this offseason, I’d say his status as a Mariners legend is being cemented in front of our very eyes during what could be one of the most memorable and important stretch runs in team history.

Standings update

The Mariners (75-62) picked up a nice chunk of ground with Sunday’s win as the A’s (74-63), Yankees (78-58) and Red Sox (79-60) all lost. Seattle moved ahead of Oakland in the wild card standings as a result and are now one game ahead of both the A’s and Blue Jays in the race. The Yankees and Red Sox occupy the two wild card spots, with New York a half game ahead of Boston. Seattle is three games back of the Red Sox entering Monday.

Things are getting interesting in the AL West, too. Houston (79-57) is just 4 1/2 games in front of the M’s, meaning Seattle has the opportunity to whittle that down to just 1 1/2 games in the three-game series starting Monday at Minute Maid Park.

This week’s Mariners schedule

All games and shows air live on 710 ESPN Seattle unless otherwise noted.

• Monday: Mariners at Astros, 4:10 p.m. (pregame show 3 p.m.)
• Tuesday: Scott Servais Show, 1 p.m. on Jake & Stacy with Shannon Drayer
• Tuesday: Mariners at Astros, 5:10 p.m. (pregame show 4 p.m.)
• Wednesday: Mariners at Astros, 11:10 a.m. (pregame show 10 a.m.)
• Thursday: Jerry Dipoto Show, 8:30 a.m. with Mike Salk
• Friday: Mariners vs. Diamondbacks, 7:10 p.m. (pregame show 6 p.m.)
• Saturday: Mariners vs. Diamondbacks, 6:10 p.m. (pregame show 5 p.m.)
• Sunday: Mariners Magazine, 11 a.m.
• Sunday: Mariners vs. Diamondbacks, 1:10 p.m. (pregame show noon)*

*Airing on 770 AM

Follow Brent Stecker on Twitter.

Related: Ignore batting average — Kyle Seager is having ‘his best year’

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