Kyle Seager, aka our Godzilla
our only internally-developed plus bat is killing it

So there we are, stranding seven runners over the first four innings, running into double-plays because the batter can't make contact on a hit-and-run, and generally looking like the Mariners.  We're a very generous ballclub: very few other teams will make a pitcher terrified to throw a strike look like a scoreless and unscorable machine, but we can do that.

JOlderdude was remarking that we should change our names to the Generals so we can get pantsed a few times on National TV and get paid for playing the stooges.  And the worst part is that at .500 and with a great pitching staff we're really NOT THAT BAD.  But when you watch the offense sputter like this, bunting into pop outs and failing to score leadoff doubles, it definitely FEELS that bad.

And then Seager stepped in.  He was already two-for-two on the day with a pair of singles (run down in gaps to keep him from extra bases, of course - why do all teams field beautifully against us anyway?) when he laced a double into the corner and plated a couple of runs for Iwakuma.  Kuma - after a fat pitch to a kid for his first HR ever - was calmly chewing up the Rangers like a cow grazing on cud, so we didn't need much. But we'd gotten NOTHING and it was looking like a hard-luck loss was coming Kuma's way, as had just been dealt out to Felix before him.

Nothing doing.  Seager hit two screaming doubles to go with his two singles, plated 3 runs, and single-handedly won the game for us on offense.  Okay yes, other people had to be on base but at at some point, somebody's gotta carry the water. Filling up the bucket isn't good enough if you can't get it home.  But that's what Seager does.

He ain't flashy, and he's not intimidating (sorry Godzilla, you're a little cuddly), but he gets it done. And in snapping the 5-game losing streak, that's exactly what we needed - and what we continue to need.

------------

Seager is obviously leading the Ms in slugging. He's hitting .260/.340/.450 while playing half his games in the Safe - and his home-road splits are like 300 points in favor of the HOME park this year. He's crushing Safeco, and the number of people who can say that are limited.  Since his normal road OPS is .800 he should be able to keep this up even as he slips back toward the norm.

Seager is not good against lefties (and that's continued this year) but a lot of lefties struggle early against same-handed pitching and then right the ship.  Ibanez comes to mind. They just don't see em enough to get good until a few years into their big-league careers.  Right-handers have far more adjustment at-bats they get to see against same-handed pitching.  But that and average defense are basically his only weaknesses.

This year, wRC+ for third basemen: Todd Frazier, Adrian Beltre and Josh Donaldson are all around 135.  Two of them play in offensive parks conducive to good hitting.

The next grouping at around 115: Seager, Carpenter, Solange and Rendon (argh). Seager is 4th in ISO, killing it in XBH (again) and leads the team in RBI (again, not hard but somebody's gotta do it).

Seager carried the team today with no help from Cano.  We only have two legit hitters: Robbie and Kyle.  Zunino is a legit hitter-in-the-making, but catching will slow him down.  Saunders can hit when he's healthy... nuff said.

But it's Kyle who makes the offense work (sputtering as that is).  During the 5 game losing streak? Kyle was slumping. When Kyle hits, we win.

We need another hitter, and a right-handed one at that.  But for the future (since we should be locking up Kyle for 4 or 5 years after this one with an extension) we have two legit MOTO lefty hitters to take us to 2020 in Seager and Cano, certainly against 70% of the pitchers in the land.  Whatever else we still need (and trust me, we still DO NEED), that's something we haven't been able to say in quite a while.

And if we get enough hitters in here that Kyle can hit #2 like McLendon wants? Even better. I'd take an offense that looks like 2011 Texas.

But an average one would keep us in contention all year, and right now the rumbly footsteps out of Seager are helping us stay in the hunt. 

Please, somebody, find me that extra bat for the days when Seager is off fighting MUTOs...

~G

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Comments

1

You're dead on, G.
Sign him to 5 or 6 years right now. Don't worry about it beyond that.
But I will disagree a bit, G. I think Miller is a real MLB bat. This is a funny year for him but I have quite a bit of faith in his ability to be a productive (SS) bat.
Jones will be a real MLB CF'er. He doesn't K much, he bats lefty, runs like a deer, and doesn't show much split issue. I would like us to run him a bit more (and I'm not a go-go type of guy, normally) but he's a great discovery....or dumb luck find. I think he would be able to survive as a LF bat if we signed a star CF, too.
Those guys are home-grown, and will be pretty decent MLB'ers.
We desperately need guys at the sluggins slots; DH/1B/RF. Here's to Choi and Blash and Peterson being the real deal in '15. '14? Morrison, Ihope. But we need to go out and get a player.

2

As JOlder also said to me today (and I agree) he gets out of whack when he starts jutting his chin out and leading with his face.  That's when his shoulder flies open and all his parts come apart.  He'll get it together - at least enough to hit like Ackley is hitting, which is enough at SS.
But that's not a plus bat, and I wouldn't count on him to be a plus bat for the position.  He may recover to be plus overall, being very young in his ML career.  I expect him to.  But I'm not building a lineup that requires it.  For years the Ms have counted on non-bat positions to hit plus in order to make the lineup work and when they don't... it's all over.
So let's get a plus bat AT A BAT POSITION, shall we? :)
I love Choi and we can find a DH/1B spot for him.  There's not really a 1B to trade for anyway, and we have three of them in LoMo, Hart and Smoak already on the roster.  We've got to be able to cobble SOMEthing out of that the rest of the year if we can all agree that Smoak doesn't need to play all the time. But Choi is still a baby experience-wise and with his suspension I don't expect him before next Spring - and he's got to hit a ton between now and then.
In the meantime, we'd better get that right-handed OF because we don't have one and Blash aside (or included), there's a waiting list for getting one from the farm. Wilson, Jackson, Morgan and O'Neill are all aimed there right now, but that targeting is at least 2 years away IMO.
So find me at least two years of a MOTO righty so we don't waste Cano, Seager, Felix and Iwakuma in an even more interminable waiting game / holding pattern / Thunderdome clash of mediocrity and ineptitude on offense.
~G

3

Then he's nothing more than a placeholder for Chris Taylor, who should slide in sometime in 2015. If you aren't going to offer a .700 OPS, you better be a glove wizard. Chris is the better glove, and his bat is good enough if he's a glove guy.
I like what you've been saying about putting in AAA time, Gordon. Miller needed it. Zunino could have used it as well. But Montero being terrible despite two seasons there necessitated a forced youth movement last season (not that Jesus was a senior citizen). The collapse of Morse and Saunders's injury, along with Ackley's demotion and Smoak's slow start (slow career for that matter), forced us to seek offense at shortstop. Franklin was rushed to second base as well. Z's kids are quality, but they aren't Mike Trout wunderkinds. Except for Seager. :-)
The AAA stats, preceded by great AA stints, suggested we could strike a little early. But even Noriega can look like a Pacific Coast League star. And the majors are littered with Billy Beane half-good River Cat all stars like Chris Carter, Michael Choice, Grant Green. We're coming to the days (we're probably there now) in which we must choose wisely. With Ackley, Smoak, Montero, and Hultzen, we chose poorly. They were the safe, conventional choices, perhaps. But the early trading days of the Z regime suggests that perhaps his strong suit isn't the safe, conventional route - doing what no one can blame him for doing. He is probably at his best playing the riverboat gambler, improvisation-ally working the hand he was dealt, finding the hidden gems (Kuma, Walker, Paxton, Seager, Jones) and cashing in white chips for a chance at a Cliff Lee. It would be better is some of his lesser hands weren't exposed, however. If you are impressed with what we traded for to get a Lee, imagine what he could have gotten for a AA Ackley and Franklin!
He said a couple years ago that Smoak was probably rushed, and needed more time in AAA. These days, he is being forced to rush some of his prime projects in similar fashion. Among position players, only Seager could handle it.

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