The Mariners may be getting ready to say goodbye to a franchise icon, but fans are still debating about whether or not Kyle Seager should return to Seattle in 2022. Today, we break it down.
The debate between Mariners fans regarding the return of Seager in 2022 is likely the only place this debate is even taking place. The Mariners front office know what their decision is and if Seager wants out, then he’s not coming back. We don’t know for sure that Seager has one foot out the door, but he’s been publicly critical of the front office this season, and sure seems ready for the next chapter of his life. But even if Seager wants to return, Seattle should respectfully decline.
Of one thing there is no debate: Seager is in the midst of a decline. He’s still providing some value with solid-average defense and good power, but the underlying numbers show a troubling trend. The most obvious signs of a decline lie in Seager’s batting average and OBP. There is a strong possibility that he’ll set career lows in both categories, but only tells a fraction of the story.
The real trends that should scare fans away is the massive jump in strikeouts, chase rate, and whiff rate. Seager is striking out in 24.7% of his PAs this year, up 11.2% from last season and 6% from his career average. He’s also chasing more pitches than ever before, sitting at 30%, which is up 9% from 2020 and 4.5% from 2019. He’s also missing these pitches more than ever, making contact on just 47.9% of pitches outside of the zone, down from his career norm of 61.4%. Finally, his whiff rate is up nearly 10% from his career norms.
Seager is less disciplined than ever at the plate and not by a small margin. There are several theories to explain this, but the most plausible one is that Seager has lost bat speed, so he’s starting his swing earlier to catch up to the fastball, leaving him more susceptible to off-speed pitches and the numbers bear it out. Hes swinging and missing at breaking balls and off-speed pitches 13% more often than he was in 2020, and is whiffing on 46% of all off-speed pitches.
Seager is in a decline, and no reasonable person would disagree. Seager’s option year is for $15 million, but with play time incentives, he could make up to $20 million. This version of Seager isn’t worth $20 million and a return of Seager actually prevents the team from upgrading offensively in the infield. Seager’s return forces Toro to play second base, where as declining said option allows Toro to move to third, opening up second base to a major upgrade. Saying goodbye to Seager gives the team a chance to upgrade at third AND second.
But just because the time has come to say goodbye to Seager, doesn’t mean his majestic career in Seattle should be ignored or in anyway disparaged and denigrated. Seager is the best third baseman in Mariners history and it’s not close. He gave the organization the best 11 years of his career and his family have been incredible to the community.
Seager is a future Mariners hall of famer and he deserves a major send off at the end of the year. If Seattle falls out of contention in mid-September, an official announcement from the team and Seager announcing a mutual parting of ways this winter could allow the fans and team to send Seager off in a way he deserves. A classy and honorable send off is what Seager and his family have earned and nobody should deny that.
It hard to say goodbye, but in this case, it’s time to do the thing that is hard.