There is nothing magical about a single month of baseball. A calendar month, of course, is just a convenient set of brackets for pulling out a small arbitrary sample of at bats. Anyone can have a month-long hot streak and us roto nerds are looking at the full body of work.
But what a single month Kyle Seager had. In 96 July at bats he hit .396 with 6 home runs.
But was Seager’s hot streak out of place and can we expect another solid season in 2014?
As a 24-year-old Seager didn’t have mile high expectations when he got his first significant major league at bats in 2012. Seager rewarded speculative fantasy owners with 20 homers and 13 stolen bases, proving the adage that’s it’s best to under-promise and over-deliver. Let’s peek at his numbers from his first two full seasons:
We now have two seasons and 1000+ at bats of Kyle Seager under our belts, plenty of data, particularly because the two seasons look very similar. If anything, Seager showed modest improvements in in plate discipline, which should tick him up from the mediocre “rosterable” in 12 team leagues to the category of solid fantasy contributor.
His walks are increasing, while his strikeouts are decreasing. He has become more selective at the plate, swinging at fewer pitches overall, swinging at fewer pitches out of the zone, and making more contact on those he does swing at. All positive signs that indicate an improved approach at the plate and this should make owning Seager more than merely meager. (Editor’s Note: We apologize for that rhyme, but not enough to remove it.)
Here’s what 2014 should give us:
HR: He’s hit 20+ two seasons in a row, so we know the power is for real. Expect him to keep that up.
Runs and RBI: I suspect he’ll hit 2nd in the 2014 Seattle Mariners lineup. If that holds, expect 75+ runs, but take the under on 75 RBI.
SB: Seager’s steals fell from 13 in 2012 to 9 in 2013. In order for fantasy owners to get 10+ steals out of him you need to hope that new manager, Lloyd McClendon has a soft spot for the stolen base.
AVG: He’s hovered around .260 for two seasons now, but his batted ball profile suggests that he might have a .280 season in there somewhere.
One piece of warning. Teams began shifting heavily against him in the second half, with him hitting into 28 second half shifts to just six in the first half. His BABIP against shifts was just .147, and with nearly half of his balls in play being pulled, teams aren’t likely to stop shifting. He’ll need to remedy that or he won’t have another month like July.
Speaking of July, Seager enjoyed a crazy stretch at the plate over that 30 days. Sure it was a small sample, so the bigger news is that we’re no longer surprised he’s performing at this level. His underlying numbers suggest the steady improvement we saw from Seager last season is real and sustainable. Draft him confidently in 2014 after the top tier third basemen are off the board.