HOUSTON – Kyle Seager is putting up home numbers that could turn out to be the best we have seen since the Mariners moved to Safeco Field.
Just how good has he been there? If the first half (pre-All-Star break) were to end today, Seager's home OPS of 1.082 would be second only to Edgar Martinez's 1.162 in 2000 for the franchise record and ahead of big numbers from names like Russell Branyan, Alex Rodriguez and John Olerud.
On the list for the highest home slugging percentage before the break, Seager (.657) again would finish second to Edgar (.690) with Raul Ibanez, Branyan and Bret Boone coming in third through fifth. Batting average, you ask? Well, some guy named Ichiro holds the top four spots (topping out at .402 in 2007), but in fifth place is, you guessed it, Kyle Seager.
Without question, he's figured it out at home. Robinson Cano believes this will only lead to better things on the road.
"If you can hit at Safeco, the way he hits, you can hit everywhere," Cano said. "It's not because of the ballpark, it's because one day you play with the nice weather, the next day it's really cold. You can't practice that way and you know your body doesn't react the same way. That tells you how mentally strong he is that he goes every day and he can hit at our place. He doesn't try to change things. Because you know what? If the ball doesn't carry, then you try to get a single. He can hit. And as a player you have got to hit at home and I know he's going to turn it around on the road, because he can hit."
Those words aren't just for us. Cano has spent plenty of time talking with Seager, sharing what he knows of the league and how he believes pitchers are going to attack him. Last week Cano gave Seager a suggestion for an at-bat against a Red Sox pitcher and the result was favorable. When Seager returned to the dugout, he embraced Cano and told him that he was the best.
In Seager, Cano said he sees a player that helps not only the team but Cano himself by hitting behind him.
"I see a guy with a lot of potential. He's a guy that can hit homers, doubles, get hits in the big situations," Cano said. "I'm the kind of guy if I see something that I can tell you as a teammate, I don't care if you can be the leader of the team. I don't care if you are going to be the guy that is going to lead the team in hitting homers. That's the way I play. I want to win. I want everyone to contribute because if they get better, I am going to get better because you are always going to follow teammates. You're going to get hits, I want to get mine. You don't want to go to the game, 'Okay I know things, I am not going to tell anybody.' "
Cano isn't the only one Seager is getting help from. He has clicked with both hitting coach Howard Johnson and manager Lloyd McClendon, too.
"Me and HoJo and Mac have had more detailed conversations, as opposed to 'Hey, you need to work on hitting the ball the other way' or whatever the case is," Seager said. "That's just kind of the way I work, but I like that. If I can pick their brains and get into the deeper conversations about why you want to do something as opposed to just kind of do it, that will help me down the road because if you know what you are trying to do you can repeat it a little easier."
Seager is certainly taking the steps forward that McClendon said he'd like to see, and those steps have him currently second to Oakland's Josh Donaldson in wins above replacement among American League third basemen. Another step or two forward away from Safeco Field and he is well on his way to being one of the elite in baseball.