I think it was Edison that once said something to the effect of “opportunity occurs when good fortune meets preparation.” While motivational quotes might not inspire Kyle Seager, this should be written in fancy calligraphy across his baseball card, because it’s opportunity that keeps falling into his lap.
The Spring started with the Seattle Mariners committing to Chone Figgins as their leadoff hitter, which was probably going to place him at third base a fair amount of time. They also had Carlos Guillen in camp to provide some third base insurance and perhaps some of that veteran savvy crap. This likely relegated Seager into some kind of utility role or perhaps having his ticket already punched for Tacoma.
Then Franklin Gutierrez went down with the pectoral muscle issue, and suddenly the Mariners had yet another way to market Figgins to other teams, throwing him into the outfield like a wet spaghetti noodle to see if something would stick. Things were looking up for Seager at third base.
Not much later, Carlos Guillen decided to hang up his spikes, and poof – Seager’s fortune changed dramatically. His value is obviously highest if he’s starting regularly, but if anyone thinks Chone Figgins will be the regular third baseman into May, raise your hand.
Seager isn’t likely to get your heart racing with his profile, but he has solid contact rates, doesn’t strike out a ton and while he’s thrived in the minors due to an awfully high BABIP, most projection systems seem to believe he can hit something in the .280 range. His ability to draw a walk should keep his OBP useful enough as well.
His “power,” is mostly of the doubles variety, but he can leave the yard enough to raise an eyebrow, and despite playing in the park that loves to ruin everyone’s fun, Safeco isn’t as stingy in right field, so it plays a little more fair for left handed batters. Given enough at bats, it’s possible he could hit double digits in home runs, and he runs enough that it wouldn’t be surprising to see 12-14 bags as well.
So Seager becomes a curious deep league or AL-only investment but more so if you’re in a league where he qualifies at shortstop, as he appeared in 10 games there in 2011. I see him as a solid plug-and-play type, someone who could be useful if injury strikes or in daily transaction leagues where you might be able to take advantage of his splits versus right handed pitchers, where most of his limited power lies.
If you’re interested at all in Seager, the situation to watch is that the Mariners have one position for two players – Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager. If Saunders lays an egg in Spring, it’s likely that Seager will make the team and play a good deal at third. If Saunders rakes, he’s likely to start the season as the regular center fielder, Figgins becomes the regular third baseman, and Seager might head to Tacoma. Considering how Saunders has fared in the past, I’m betting we’ll see Seager at third, and if they commit to his playing time, he might even be useful to your fantasy team.