Kyle Seager had a breakout year in 2012; he rose to prominence in the M’s lineup. Last year he batted .259, smashed 20 dingers, and finished the season with a 3.6 WAR. Already one of the Mariners most productive hitters, let’s look at what Kyle’s goals should be for the upcoming season.
1. Decrease strikeout rate to 14.5%.
In the minors, Kyle generally struck out 12%-13% of the time. Obviously, while the pitching gets better in the majors compared to the minors, there is some room to progress from last year’s 16.9%. 2012 also indicated that his strikeout rate was already falling, because in 2011 Kyle K’d 17.9% of the time. So while a decrease of the 15-16 strikeouts required to have a strikeout rate of 14.5% might be a little far-fetched, Kyle has shown steady progress in his plate discipline. Every time Kyle doesn’t strikeout and puts the ball in play, he will rack up more hits.
2. Shoot a few more in the gaps.
Seager ranked 36th in the Majors in doubles last year, knocking 35 of them. If he could increase his total to just 42, he would be top-ten in the league. Seager does not have have world-beating power or Usainian speed, so he won’t hit 40 homers and swipe 50 bags, but becoming a leader in the doubles category in the big leagues is something Kyle could achieve. While Seager could knock a few more round-trippers in 2013 with the new fences, I don’t see him ever hitting many more than 25. Hitting more doubles would be number 15 playing to his strengths in 2013.
3. Get OBP over .340.
Seager batted .259–not terrible (especially for the Mariners…)–but he could do better. His BABIP in 2012 was .017 lower than in 2011, and much lower than his numbers for his Minor League career. Should we see a rebound of BABIP in 2013 back into the .305-.310 range, we could see a large bump in his batting average, perhaps into the .278-.282 range. Also, Seager’s walk rate, according to Bill James’ projections, should increase by about .5%, due to experience. This would give Kyle even more times on base, and raise his OBP to about .345. A .345 OBP would rank Kyle 8th or 9th in the MLB next year among third basemen.
Kyles WAR last year was 3.6–8th amongst 3rd Basemen. Assuming he accomplishes all of the goals above, we would see his WAR rise to 5 or 5.5. That would put him 6th among MLB 3rd basemen. Kyle also has decent speed, so he might be able to swipe a few more bags. His defense could possibly improve at 3rd too, he’ll be jumping around the infield less. His defensive improvement from 2011 to 2012 was mostly due to him not playing shortstop, where he underperformed in 2011. Kyle is a rock in the M’s lineup, and with or without improvements, he looks to be a staple in Seattle for as long as he’s here.
What do you think Kyle’s goals should be for 2013?