Entering his second full season of major league play, most projection systems have Kyle Seager taking at least a minor step back in terms of his overall fantasy production. ZiPS and Steamer have him dropping to 15 and 14 home runs respectively, while Bill James is the only system held on FanGraphs that has him matching his total stolen base output from last season.
While Seager is not quite an exciting player in terms of any one of his tools being overwhelmingly “loud,” his ability to contribute across the board seems to make him at least slightly undervalued. His first season wasn’t so impressive that he is a must have for many owners, but he was a sneaky buy on draft day for those that followed him last year and especially for those in leagues where he still has second base eligibility. My hunch is that the owners who targeted him on draft day or are targeting him via trade will be happy they nabbed him at a relative discount when they could.
Depending on the quality of the owners in the league, trading for Seager soon may be a bit easier than it should be. I still like him in leagues where he only has second base eligibility. While the projection systems are far more systematic than my inclinations on his skill set and ability to produce, I think they are a bit bearish on him this year. Keep in mind that Seager had a .293/.324/.511 line away from Safeco last year, and that the fences have been moved in at his home park. If his BABIP of .256 last season at home bumps up near the .275 mark, his rate stats should all receive nice boosts as should his run production – which was already sneaky good last year.
In daily leagues, owning him with a caddy at third base for when he starts against left-handed pitching could be a very wise decision as well. He was far from pitiful against lefties last year, posting an 85 wRC+ with a .140 ISO, but he was much better against right-handed batters last year with his 121 wRC+ and .335 OBP. So far this year, he has hit second against the only right-handed starter the M’s have faced (he went 3-3 with two doubles, two walks, a run, and an RBI) and sixth against the only lefty. While the M’s lineup is still rather soft, hitting ahead of Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse should allow him to score runs at a higher rate than last season – though his RBI numbers should drop in accordance.
Maybe he doesn’t reach the 20 home run plateau again and maybe his steals drop under the teens, but for a young player with only one season under his belt that is in a better lineup and park situation he looks like a solid player to target before the rest of the world catches on. He is being started in only 66% of leagues this year, so if you have a player ahead of him who has value now may be the time to trade him. Conversely, if you can use an upgrade at the hot corner he is a guy to target it negotiations.