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Existential Crisis and Kyle Seager

Kyle Seager is having a terrible season.”

I heard that at the bar three times last night. From three different sources. “Is he?” was my response.

Now, most fantasy enthusiasts would likely posit that Kyle Seager isn’t having a particularly great season. If you drafted him, you probably feel that way. Heck, if you’re a Mariner fan, you probably feel that way. And there was a period of time at the beginning of the year where one might have ventured to argue that he was just totally useless. Because inasmuch as the term “use” equals “doing something,” well, he was pretty useless.

Seager stands at .234/.330/.416 with six home runs, 17 runs, and 25 RBI. As far as counting stats go, that ain’t bad since the projections now put him on pace with a very Seager-esque rate of 19 home runs, 75 runs, and 80 RBI. What a lot of folks have their undergarments bunched up about is his batting average and elevated strikeout rate. And while Seager did have a notably awful start to the season, if you look at third basemen over the last 30 days, here’s your leaderboard:

G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Juan Francisco 24 93 8 18 18 10.80% 38.70% 0.346 0.272 0.355 0.617 0.415 165
Josh Donaldson 26 118 6 24 21 1 17.80% 19.50% 0.253 0.284 0.415 0.537 0.41 166
Kyle Seager 24 101 6 12 23 1 7.90% 19.80% 0.267 0.289 0.366 0.556 0.401 158

That pretty solid company to be keeping. No, Juan Francisco isn’t going to keep up that pace, and frankly neither is Kyle Seager — but Seager has been a pretty hot hitter over the last month, even though it’s hard to tell by looking at his overall line.

I heard people say last night that “all he can do is pull the ball.” And so what?

AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2013 Pull 0.416 0.414 0.772 0.508 231
2014 Pull 0.34 0.34 0.811 0.492 220
2013 Center 0.269 0.265 0.369 0.274 69
2014 Center 0.289 0.289 0.316 0.268 66
2013 Opposite 0.228 0.224 0.298 0.226 36
2014 Opposite 0.269 0.269 0.346 0.27 67

This is Kyle Seager. Defenses do this because they know he pulls the ball:

seagershift

Yes, Kyle Seager pulls the ball. A lot. But if you check the chart above and train your eyes to wOBA and RC+, he’s doing this year what he did in 2013, and in fact, he’s been a little better going the opposite way if you want to split hairs.

“He’s been making terrible contact,” I heard. Has he?

Season O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Zone% SwStr%
2011 29.60% 68.70% 48.70% 69.10% 91.40% 84.50% 48.80% 7.50%
2012 30.30% 68.30% 47.90% 66.10% 90.80% 82.40% 46.30% 8.30%
2013 26.30% 63.00% 42.20% 68.50% 90.30% 82.60% 43.40% 7.20%
2014 27.00% 62.50% 42.80% 64.10% 91.20% 81.80% 44.70% 7.30%

Well, no. No he hasn’t. Not by his standards anyway.

And if you’re into the Mark Simon hard-hit tweets, here’s the latest list. And yeah, there’s Kyle Seager just a nose ahead of a few guys named Miggy, Trout, and Puig.

One of the self-help tenets of classic existential crisis therapy is to stop comparing yourself to others. Basically what I’m saying is, if you liked Kyle Seager when the season started, there’s no reason to not like Kyle Seager today. Because Kyle Seager, with the exception of his batting average, is doing exactly what you ought to have expected Kyle Seager to do. And if we know anything at all about batting average, it’s that it is a volatile thing that fluctuates. If you had to wager whether Kyle Seager hits .230 or .260 for the rest of the season, where would you put your money?

Seager is available in about half of Yahoo leagues, and if a third baseman who can hit .260 with 20 home runs, 85 RBI, and 75 runs with maybe seven or eight stolen bases sounds useful to you, then you can holler Yahtzee.