Photo Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images – CBS Seattle
There has been some consternation about Kyle Seager’s performance in 2017, he’s been worth only 3 wins in 579 plate appearances. It’s a fair point, Seattle needed all of the offensive firepower it could get this season, but it’s all star third baseman had a down year offensively…and that’s just unfortunate.
The biggest reason for Seager’s decrease in production is the drop in his HR/FB ratio, only 10.6% of his fly balls have turned into dingers, which means that less fly balls are leaving the yard and are potential outs. Despite the low HR/FB rate, the third baseman has still clubbed 23 homers this season — which means he’s on pace for his career average — and that’s because over half of balls put in play (54.1%) have been fly balls. So why is the 29-year old suddenly hitting infinitely more fly balls?
It’s because the pitches he’s been having the highest contact rate with have been away and about mid-thigh to belt high in the strike zone.
That dark red spot on the heat map lines up perfectly with the sweet spot of the bat. Look in the below still where Seager’s bat makes contact with the ball.
His swing, plus the way he’s been swinging the bat have led to more fly balls from Seager. Because of the increase in fly balls, and fly ball outs, Seager has seen his BABIP drop to a career low of .268 — which is 27 points lower than it was in 2016. Which means that he’s only posted a wRC+ of 105 this season while hitting .255/.323/.452. It’s been an off year at the plate for Seattle’s third baseman, and a lof of that is related to the higher clip he’s hitting fly balls at this season.
It’s also interesting to see that Seager is swinging at 17.3.% of sliders he’s seen throughout 2017, when his career average is 14.4%. Yet, despite the increased percentage of sliders he’s swinging at, Kyle has seen his ground ball rate decrease while his fly ball rate has skyrocketed; especially since the 29-year old is swinging at less fast balls at the same time.
In years where Seager has been worth five, or more, wins (2014 and 2016), his fly ball rate has hovered around 41.5% (41.1% in 2014 and 42% in 2016); which led to a BABIP of .295 in 2014 and .295 in 2016, along with a wRC+ of 127 in ’14 and 132 last season.
For Kyle Seager to produce at the plate like the Mariners are going to need him to produce at in 2018…he needs to decrease the rate at which he hits fly balls which should limit the number of outs he produces.
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