Play 3. Medium-high popup behind third base.
Seager glides over, taking a great angle with the subtle curve in the banana out towards LF, allowing himself margin for error in case the ball drifts on him. He gets there early and takes the ball with Jeter-esque body language.
High pops are no issue for Seager, who has played 3B and 2B. Kyle Seager the SS can handle skyballs as well as any ML shortstop, no worries.
It's not a big issue either way, but it's a checkbox you can tick and move on. Popups will be outs, end of story.
Play Zeroth. A brisk single up the middle -- no SS could have knocked it down. Well, you know, maybe Luis Aparicio or Elvis Andrus or Brendan Ryan just might have smothered it. Doubt it.
I watched Seager's first few steps before he gave up. Raised an eyebrow. Huh. He looked about as fast as, say, Josh Wilson or Ronny Cedeno.
Seriously? Okayyyyy. That's what they're seeing at 5:00 and why he's at SS.
Play 4. Michael Cuddyer hits a groundball deep into the 6 hole. Here we go. A test of Seager's range.
The ball is not hit hard, it's 50 yards from 1B, and it's impossible for most SS's to convert. This is exactly the play that keeps Brendan Ryan and Alexei Ramirez in the league. No utility infielder makes this play, or even close, but let's see what kind of effort Seager can make...
Seager takes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 steps to get there. After he gathers in the ball, he then takes an extra step, and makes a Jeter-type jump throw ... but sidearm rather than overhand.
The submarined 50-yard throw floats over to 1B and Kennedy strolls off the bag to catch it waist high on the infield. Ouch. On camera it looked nondescript, but to the players on the field it had to have been kind of embarrassing for everybody involved.
Caveats and quid pro quo's:
(1) The Red Sox, Indians, DRays, and most teams play with shortstops who cannot convert a slow roller in the hole. It's only the superstar defenders who rob those base hits.
It's one thing to have a SS who makes the plays; it's another thing to have one who robs base hits miraculously.
The dyed-in-the-wool NL Zduriencik prefers the latter, but he's swiftly re-thinking baseball the AL way. You outscore teams in the AL. Fine technical play doesn't mean a lot in the face of 3 Ranger home runs on the evening.
(2) Had Seager taken one less step, and thrown overhand, he'd have put in a perfectly decent showing on the play.
Play 5. Ackley gives Seager a perfect DP feed.
Seager, early to the bag, presents Ackley the RF-side target and Ackley gives him a clinical throw.
Seager kicks the bag as his hands flash through the transfer and, in this case, his submarine throw knocks the runner down. The followthrough is emphatic.
It's odd: on plays familiar to Seager, he exudes a division-winner's confidence and forwardgoingness. ... so does Willie Bloomquist, of course. This DP, partnered by two bat-first but dirt-dog ballplayers, tells Minnesota that Seattle's in charge of the ballgame.