How will Mariners franchise great Kyle Seager be remembered?
After 11 seasons – all with the Seattle Mariners – third baseman Kyle Seager is walking away from professional baseball.
The one-time All-Star and Gold Glover announced through his wife Julie’s Twitter account that he was retiring at the age of 34 after a year in which he set career-highs in home runs (35) and RBIs (101). The 2021 season was the seventh and final year of his contract, and the Mariners declined a club option for the 2022 season, which made Seager a free agent for the first time in his career.
Seager retires as one of the greatest to put on a Mariners uniform, ranking among the top-five in franchise history in games played, plate appearances, at-bats, hits, runs scored, doubles, home runs, total bases, RBIs, walks, position player WAR, offensive WAR, and defensive WAR.
During Thursday’s edition of The Mike Salk Show on 710 ESPN Seattle, host Mike Salk posed the question of how Seager will be remembered. Who better to help answer that than 710 ESPN Seattle Mariners insider Shannon Drayer?
“I’ll remember him as a lifetime Mariner and somebody whose career I got to see from start to finish,” she told Salk. “And it’s rare that you have a player stay with one club for his entire career. And what comes with that is he was beloved in the Seattle area.”
Drayer said that it was evident how much of an impact Seager had on Mariners fans when looking through Twitter on Wednesday after the news broke that he was retiring.
“One of the things that really jumped out at me over the last 24 hours or since this news came out was the personal stories that you saw on Twitter,” Drayer said. “People saying that they met Kyle after a game or he signed an autograph for them or just different circumstances. And that’s what happens when you stay in one place that long. There’s so many stories and so many kids that grow up and he was there when they were 10, he was there when they were 20, and that means something. In an era where obviously there hasn’t been a playoff (appearance) and there have been a lot of rough times for this franchise, he was a bit of consistency over at the hot corner there.”
Was it a surprise to Drayer that Seager walked away after 11 seasons? Or how he announced that decision?
“I think when you sit back and you think about Kyle Seager a little bit, it’s not a shock,” she said. “It’s not a shock that he would go out on his own terms. And it’s not a shock that family would play a huge part in that … I thought it was going to be fun to see where he landed, to possibly see him if he played in the American League come back to T-Mobile Park and see the reception and see how he fared and perhaps have a shot to play for the postseason – which I guess he would have had in Seattle probably next year, as well.”
What is a little bit surprising, Drayer said, is that Seager’s career is over in general.
“But this is a guy who has been very in control of what his career has been from start to finish,” she said. “This is a guy who has always prioritized family. He’s a guy that’s always done things kind of very quietly. There’s not a lot of fuss through what he does, there’s not a lot of fanfare. So for it to come out in a brief Twitter message from his wife at the end of December, that seemed about right if you really sat back and thought about it.”
While it’s easy to point to the number of statistics where Seager ranks so highly when looking at the history of the Mariners, his durability and availability are things that are impossible to ignore when considering his legacy.
Seager played in 11 seasons and appeared in 154 or more games in all but three of those years. One of those years was 2011, which was his rookie season where he debuted in July. The second time was 2019, where he started the year on the injured list. The third time was 2020, which was shortened to just 60 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seager played in all 60 games for the Mariners that year.
Overall, Seager played in 1,427 of 1,518 games for the Mariners since becoming a full-time starter (H/T Luke Arkins of ProspectInsider).
That Seager was seemingly in the lineup each and every day, shouldn’t be taken for granted, Drayer said.
“And that wasn’t easy. I think that this is something that probably also played into (the decision to retire) a little bit,” she said. “… It gets tougher and tougher as as you age. And we know what he did when he turned 30 and just the total turnaround he did with the diet and the workouts and the time that he invested. And if you have a young family, that takes up a big chunk of your life right there. But day in and day out in the season, he has had so many I call them ‘play through injuries.’ They’re injuries that if he had time, they would heal, (but) you don’t have that time (during the season). And they’re probably not something that are quite to the point where you’d need surgery, but maybe it would help in some circumstances. Over the last few years in particular, he has been dealing with a lot, and it was not something that he let be reported. It was not something that he wanted out there.”
Listen to the full discussion at this link or in the player below.