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ZiPS vs. the Fans vs. Brett, Round 4: Kyle Seager

March 23, 2013


Stats Primer

Previous entries:

Jesus Montero

Justin Smoak

Dustin Ackley

Given how good Kyle Seager has been for the Mariners, it’s interesting how little he gets talked about in the blogosphere. Mariners fans almost take having an above-average player for granted, which we shouldn’t, because we haven’t had very many of them for a very long time. It’s probably because he’s basically average or slightly above across the board–he has no one standout skill.

It’s also possibly because he hasn’t been much of a vibrant personality; I love ya, Kyle, but as far as your personality is perceived here, your middle name of “Duerr” seems to fit. Seager’s always been an overachiever, though the consensus among people I’ve talked to is that he’s probably maxed out his skillset. Let’s see what the projections have to say

*Keep in mind that my projections are simply my opinion, based on the players’ previous performance, how I’ve personally scouted them, and their age. It’s my interpretation of their career-arc, and is not based on some hidden formula I’ve come up with.

ZiPS 663 14 80 75 12 6.9 17.0 .132 .264 .321 .396 .313 -1.0 2.2
Fans 655 19 73 88 13 7.2 16.5 .161 .268 .325 .429 .328 2.0 3.5
Brett 660 18 75 83 10 7.5 17.0 .160 .270 .330 .430 .330 -2.0 3.3

The first thing that stands out about Kyle Seager’s projection is that ZiPS clearly doesn’t believe in Kyle Seager’s power progression from 2012, expecting his ISO to drop by .031 points, and hit six less home runs. ZiPS does feel like his ability to avoid the strikeout is real, though, and projects him to strike out at the same rate.

I was a bit surprised to see 12 stolen bases projected, mostly because I hadn’t realized that Seager had swiped 13 bases while being thrown out five times, for a decent success rate of 72.2%. Seager is projected by ZiPS for a negative contribution with the glove, after saving 2.2 runs last year.

I’d imagine that’s because ZiPS expects Seager to get most or all of his playing time at third base this year, where he put up -1.9 UZR in 138 games last year. Seager’s positive UZR score comes from a 4.1 mark in 18 games at second base last season, Seager’s natural position. It seems a bit pessimistic to project 2.2 WAR from a 25-year-old coming off a 3.8 WAR season, but that’s largely based in ZiPS estimation that his gains in the power department weren’t for real.

Oh come on. This is just too easy.

Oh come on. This caption is just too easy.

The fans see more of the same from Seager, which seems to jive with the the general opinion that he’s maxed out his skillset. Seager had a low BABIP last season, so both the fans and ZiPS seem to agree that Seager will hit for higher average.

The fans do think Seager will play positive defense, and I’ll admit, from the eye test, Seager didn’t look negative last year. I can see why fans would score him positively. Fans expect Seager to continue to lower his strikeout rate, this year by about a half of a percent after lowering it one full percentage point last year. As far as walks go, they see essentially no change.

A big difference between ZiPS and the fans, though, is power projection. The fans clearly believe Seager is going to pretty much exactly match last year’s power output. They see him hitting just one fewer home run than he did last season, and that should be doable with the fences coming in this season. That’s really the only really big difference between ZiPS and the fans.

I am also a Kyle Seager fan. I do think that his average will get up into the average or above-average range this season with an improved BABIP. I too feel that Seager has pretty much reached his maximum power output. I could see him hitting anywhere between 16-22 home runs, with plenty of doubles, but I don’t think he’s going to take another significant step forward in that regard.

Patience generally only improves over time, so I see a small uptick in patience for Seager. He walked about 9-10% of the time in the minors, so it’s not unrealistic to expect his pitch recognition to get better as he ages.

I’m the least optimistic for Seager on defense, though I obviously don’t see him as a liability. Seager does some things well–he has great hands, and above average range for the position. His throwing arm is good enough for the hot corner, but will never be mistaken for above-average.

Seager can sometimes bare hand the slow roller down the line and gun it to first for the out, but it’s not a consistent skill for him. Mariners fans have been spoiled by Adrian Beltre, though. Seager makes that play at about an average rate. Still, Seager is average at best at third. He may put up a positive UZR score if he gets some time at second, but I’m assuming he’ll play almost exclusively third. And there, he’s average at best.

Seager is one of the Mariners’ best position players right now, and if he can settle in as a 3-4 WAR player, that’s a valuable asset to a playoff contending team. Seager’s probably maxed out his skillset. He’s sort of a David Freese-lite with the bat. If he were to improve, I see Freese as his absolute maximum upside.

But he doesn’t have to improve, really. Even if ZiPS is right, that’s still a good player to have on your team. There’s nothing absolutely glowing to say about Kyle Seager, but really nothing bad to say about him anyway. Continue making us proud, Duerr!

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