Kyle Seager’s Goals for 2013

This is the third installment of my goals series for the Mariners’ key young players. Here are Jesus Montero’s and Dustin Ackley’s.

Kyle_Seager_on_April_15,_2012

Kyle Seager at bat at SafeCo Field on April 15th, 2012. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

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?

Posted in Mariners | Tagged 2013, goals, kyle seager, new year's resolutions, new years goals | 2 Comments

Dustin Ackley’s Goals for 2013

This is the second installment of my goals series for the M’s core players.

Dustin makes contact, shooting a liner into left field on June 17, 2011. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Dustin makes contact, shooting a liner into left field on June 17, 2011. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

(Jesus Montero’s can be viewed here).

Dustin Ackley was the Mariners first pick in the 2009 Ameteur Draft. He was expected to be a star in the Majors, but has not panned out as expected–yet. Although he is only 24 years old, this could be his last shot to prove he isn’t a bust–his career batting average to date is .243.

Dustin Ackley’s Goals:

1. Increase Walk Percentage to 10%.

In 2012, Ackley’s walk percentage was 8.8%. This is above league average, which means it is one of Ackley’s strengths. In 2013, I would like to see him walk 11 more times, thus increasing his total to 70 BB. Walking in 10% of plate appearances is incredible for a player in his third year in the league. Bill James actually projects Ackley to walk 10.5% of the time, so we’ll see.

2. Bat over .260.

Dustin Ackley did not have a good batting average in 2012. Although batting average is not a perfect stat, it would help Dustin to raise his considerably. Last year, Dustin’s average was .226. Horrendous. Even for the Mariners. If he bats .260, he’ll have close to 165 hits. If he bats .260 and increases his walk percentage, his OBP will rise above .335 or .340, which puts him in Bryce Harper/Asdrubal Cabrera range. Ideally Ackley eventually rises above .350.

An increase in his batting average should almost be expected, as Dustin was one of MLB’s most unlucky players last year, with a BABIP of .265. That number isn’t even close to his numbers from college, the minors, and even 2011. For reference, Ackley had the 21st lowest BABIP of players with at least 400 at-bats. A rebound is nearly guaranteed.

3. Add some muscle.

Ackley is pretty damn skinny. He’s 6’1″ and only 190 pounds–thick–for a regular person–but small for a Big Leaguer. If he puts on ten pounds like he did last season, and doesn’t battle nagging injuries like he did last year, Dustin should hit more doubles and homers. In addition, Ackley should see a small increase in homers due to the fences being moved in, as he only jacked two at home while smashing ten on the road. Produce 10 at home too, and you’ve got a second basemen who hits 20 homers. Not bad.

4. Continue to play great defense at second.

Dustin’s D at second has been tremendously underrated, as he posted an UZR of 6.7, which is well above league average. Dustin ranked eighth in UZR among second basemen. If he improves a little more, which should be expected as this is only his third year playing the position, Dustin could be in the running for a Gold Glove.

Dustin Ackley did not have a great 2012. That much is obvious. In 2013, the former second-overall pick will see much better days. He’ll have shorter fences, less bone spurs, more experience, and a little luck on his side.

For 2013, Bill James projects Dustin have a .249 batting average, and to improve in (nearly) every other statistical category. Ackley earned a WAR of 1.5 in 2012. If he accomplishes all of the goals above, we should see him creep up into the 4.5 WAR range for 2013.

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Jesus Montero’s Goals for 2013

I’m going to do a quick series of posts involving the Mariners’ key young players and

Jesus Montero at bat on April 15th, 2012. Image from Wikimedia. Commons.

Jesus Montero at bat on April 15th, 2012. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

their goals for the 2013 season (or at least what should be their goals). These players include in no particular order, Jesus Montero (today’s installment), Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Michael Saunders, Kendrys Morales, and Justin Smoak.

These players figure to be the core of the Mariners’ offense for the foreseeable future.

Jesus Montero’s Goals:

1. Play in at least 145 games.

Last year, Jesus played in only 135 games, mostly at DH. For him to be productive, he can’t miss 17% of the season. A bump of ten games this year is reasonable, and will be ten more games where he can help the Mariners win. Hopefully he can eventually get to 150+, especially as a DH.

2. Walk at least 40 times.

In 2012, Jesus walked only 29 times. For someone who projects to be a power-hitter in the Major Leagues, he needs better plate discipline. Hopefully, as the young player progresses, this will occur naturally. Walking 40 times would be a 33% increase in his walks, and would also increase his OBP into the .330 range instead of last year’s .298, also assuming a slight increase in hits.

3. Hit at least 23 Homeruns and 30 Doubles.

Montero will be most valuable if he has a high slugging percentage. He’s the definition of lead-footed (two stolen bases in the entirety of his minor league career), so he won’t be able to advance to the next bag via the stolen base. Last year, Jesus hit 15 homers and 20 doubles, so increases of eight homers and ten doubles are achievable and respectable. The fences being moved in at Safeco Field should also give him a slight boost in his extra-base-hits total. If he achieves this goal, his slugging percentage should rise above .450.

4. Hit right handed pitching.

Jesus Montero struggled against right handed pitching in 2012. Last year, against right handers, Jesus batted a measly .228, while against lefties he batted .322. That is almost a .100 point difference in average. Most of the pitchers he will face will be righties, so if he can solve this problem, or simply suppress it to the point where he hits even .260-.270 off of them, he could have a tremendous season. This is the most important goal for Jesus.

I learned a lot about Jesus Montero while researching for this article. While looking through his stats, I learned he had a pretty good year last year. If you pay attention to Bill James’ projected stats, Montero looks to fare well this year. In 2012, Jesus had a -0.2 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), while this year he projects to have a +1.9 WAR. This would be a fantastic improvement for Jesus and the Mariners in their never-ending quest to solve their problems in the batter’s box.

Posted in Mariners | Tagged 2013, goals, jesus montero, new year's resolutions | 2 Comments

First Post

This is officially the first post on this site. Like ever.

In 100 years, people will look back on this post and will be amazed. It will be like looking at a video of the first people ever to discover how to make fire.

I’m not going to write anything interesting in this post, I’m just going to ramble a bit, so you can stop reading now if you want.

Right now, I am only going to write about the Mariners. Predictions, editorials, analyses, rumors about the team etc. I plan on posting once or twice per week at this point, maybe more, never less.

I eventually want to get to the point where I can invite new writers to the site and grow it into a large baseball hub covering a wide array of teams, but that is a couple years off.

I want this site to spark discussion, ignite ideas, and fire the flame inside every Mariner fan.

So here’s to you, dear reader. You are one of the few, but soon to be many.

Happy New Year!

And finally, HUGE shout out to the Seahawks who finished the season 11-5 and made the playoffs. Puh-lease beat Washington D.C on Sunday.

How about you bring a Superbowl to Seattle? Maybe the Mariners could perform a great second act for the Emerald City.

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