Last week veteran third baseman Kyle Seager announced his retirement. The Mariners took Seager in the third round of the 2009 draft and got plenty of bang-for-their-buck, as Seager served as a staple at third base for over a decade.
Defying expectations was a hallmark for Seager. As he advanced through the minors, he never cracked the Mariners top-five prospects. In 2011, Baseball America had him ranked ninth-best in the Ms’ organization. Seager ultimately played ⅓ of the season for the Mariners in his rookie season.
After his partial season, Seager really hit his stride, playing in 155 games in 2012, and posting a 108 wRC+ along with excellent defense. His 3.8 fWAR set the pace, as Seager averaged 4.3 fWAR between 2012 and 2017. With defensive metrics running from slightly above average to excellent and an above average bat, Seager was one of the most consistent third basemen of the 2010s.
After two successful seasons of 2012 and 2013, Seager hit his peak in 2014. He earned his first All Star appearance, and finished the season with 25 home runs, a .268/.334/.454 slash line, and again, strong defense. His 5.2 fWAR was the highest of his career, and earned him a long-term seven-year $100 million deal with Seattle.
After inking the long-term deal after the 2014 season, Seager came out as consistent as ever in 2015. His slash line was close to identical to 2014, and he mashed 26 homers. 2015 he tied his career high 5.2 fWAR, this time hitting the 30 home run mark, and raising his slash line to .278/.359/.499.
Seager continued his productivity through the latter part of his contract with Seattle, though the last four years were not as strong as the first three. In 2018, Seager’s walk rate declined to a meager six percent, his strikeout rate increased a few percentage points compared to prior years, to nearly 22 percent, and he garnered a wRC+ of only 83, and an fWAR of 1.5.
2019 was a bounce-back year, with Seager taking more walks, and incurring fewer strikeouts. He posted his seventh 3.0+ fWAR season in eight seasons and again showed strong defensive metrics.
Seager certainly has more in the tank, should he have chosen to continue to play. Last season may have been his worst offensive year since 2018 (he was right around league average, with a 99 wRC+), but good defense, and the strongest power performance of his career (35 home runs!) led to a 2.5 win season.
Kyle Seager isn’t a Hall of Fame caliber player, but in an age where players roam from team to team, and long-term deals often make players and front offices look bad by the end of them,. Seager served as a pillar to the 2010s Mariners.
Unfortunately, Seattle never put a strong enough team together for Seager to appear in a postseason game. A roster of 25 Kyle Seager-like players would do some pretty significant damage.