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This Is Not the Kyle Seager You’re Looking For

I kind of love and I kind of hate this time of year all at the same time. We have things called a Yangervis leading third basemen in WAR and we have things like Carlos Santana walking at a 30% clip. Small sample sizes may be the tools of the foolhardy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t produce a little bit of fun along the way. Take for instance the performance of Kyle Seager. No really, take it.

The Seager name, in the Mariner community at least, has evolved as both a noun and a verb. To “Seager” is to be a nice little player who can go out there, hit about .260, 18-20 home runs, and drive in something like 70 or 80 runs. “Just go forth and Seager”.

Well, so far, Seager hasn’t been doing much, ahem, “Seagering” in 2014. He’s hitting .111, he’s striking out a lot, he has one run batted in. But, yeah, five games equals big whoop. However, what hasn’t commonly been talked about is Seager’s rough patch starting about August 2013. On August 1, Seager was hitting .300/.363/.496 with 17 home runs and was having what really amounted to a tremendously productive season. From that point to the end of the season, however, Seager hit .177/.287/.278. Yes, some of this can be chalked up to rotten luck as he had just a .207 BABIP, but this was over a two month period and 230 plate appearances, so it’s not just a little flukey thing. Maybe we can blame Lyle Raymond (just kidding kiddo).

If one were a betting type, you would probably guess that pitchers started to adjust to Seager. The Mariners were a better hitting team in 2013, what with opponents needing to deal with the Raul Ibanez home run extravaganza — but Seager was far and away their best hitter at that point in the season. And looky here:

seager before

Here are the locations of the pitches from the start of the 2013 season to August 1. Below are the locations from August 2 to the end of the season:

seager after

Kind of the same philosophy, down and away, down and away — except it appears pitchers weren’t giving him nearly the same amount of the plate as they had previously. Early on in 2014, he’s getting the same dose:

seager 2014

None of this is to say he can’t adjust himself — or that he won’t start seeing better pitches for that matter. But the book on how pitchers want to approach Seager has apparently been written.

If you’re a Seager owner, I wouldn’t panic, but this isn’t just a small sample size thing — his trouble goes back into August of 2013. If the surrounding pieces in the Mariner lineup continue to hit well, there should be ample opportunity for Seager to work things out. And considering their new manager is a former hitting coach, I’d imagine there are plenty of people on board helping to right his proverbial ship. But it’s probably worth pointing out that Nick Franklin is hitting .533 in AAA.