Mariners management should sign Kyle Seager long term

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Mariners management should sign Kyle Seager long term

Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager fields a ground ball during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 14, 2013.

Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager fields a ground ball during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 14, 2013.

Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager fields a ground ball during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 14, 2013.

Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager fields a ground ball during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 14, 2013.

Brent Atkinson | Evergreen columnist

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Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager is one of the most underrated players in baseball. Outside of Felix Hernandez, Seager has also quietly been the Mariners’ best player during the past two seasons up until this year’s addition of superstar second baseman Robinson Cano. 

In his first full major league season as a 24 year old two years ago, Seager represented the best hitter in Seattle’s lineup as he batted .259, second highest batting average on the team among players with 500 or more at-bats. He belted 20 homeruns to lead the club, and sported a respectable .318 on base percentage, as well as leading the team with 35 doubles.  To top it all off he played in 155 games that season, which also led the team.

This is impressive considering the Mariners were the worst offensive team in baseball in 2012, meaning Seager had more or less no one protecting him in the lineup. And when everyone else is hitting terribly it is easy for the best hitter on the team to fall into a slump as well, given that teams tend to pitch around them more often. The psychological torment of constantly having those around them fail to produce can have a large mental effect, especially for a young player.

Last season Seager once again represented the best player on the Mariners outside of Hernandez, with Kendrys Morales challenging Seager as possibly the best hitter last season. Nonetheless, a case can still be made for Seager as he hit .260, elevated his on-base percentage to a team-leading .341, smacked the third-most homeruns with 22 long balls, and added 32 doubles. And once again he led the team with 160 games played.

Back-to-back seasons with a batting average around .260, 20-plus home runs, and leading the team in both on base percentage and games played makes Seager the Mariners’ most consistent man in the field during the past two seasons. And there is another aspect of his game that gets overlooked even more than his consistency at the plate: his play at the hot corner.

While Seager will commit the occasional error and might never lead the league in fielding percentage, he has consistently been a top 10-third baseman in baseball. In 2012 his .962 fielding percentage ranked ninth in major league baseball among third basemen, ahead of players such as Brett Lawrie, Ryan Zimmerman, and David Freese.

In 2013 Seager ranked 10th among third basemen with a .964 fielding percentage while playing more games than any of the other top-22 ranked third basemen, and he ranked ahead of players such as Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, and Josh Donaldson.

At just 26 years old Kyle Seager has already compiled two seasons of consistency, and a consistent player in a heavily streak-based game such as baseball is worth his weight in gold. More importantly he has proven his durability as injuries have been a non-issue to this point in his career. He is entering the best years of his career as the next five seasons or so will likely represent the prime of his career.

Like many other Mariners on the current roster Seager is also in the mid of the final year of his contract and is set to hit arbitration and potentially free agency this offseason if Seager and the Mariners can’t come to terms. Seager is the type of player who doesn’t come around too often, which is why Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik needs to re-sign the third baseman.

If the Mariners were to sign him to at least a five-year contract they would not only be doing Seager a favor, but more importantly they would be doing themselves a favor. They would insure that they have one of the best third basemen in the league for at least the next five seasons as Seager would represent a rock at the hot corner, consistently playing in 150-160 games a season barring an onset of injury issues.

To wrap up the argument here is a stat that might surprise you. The WAR stat represents Wins Above Replacement. Ultimately, it represents the collective value a player offers to his club. According to FanGraphs.com, in 2013 with a salary of $15 million in New York Robinson Cano posted a WAR of 3.7, and he is set to make a flat $24 million over the next 10 years in Seattle. In 2013 with a salary of just $510,400 Seager posted a WAR of 3.6, just barely under Cano. With that being said, it is time to lock up Seager long term.

Brent Atkinson is a grad student from Pasco. He can be contacted at 335-1140 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.