Updated May 15, 2013 - 4:54 pm
High Heat from the Hill
Tuesday, August 13, 2013 @ 2:59pm
By Gary Hill
Here is a quiz: Which player would you rather have for the 2013 season?
• Player A: .270 BA, .367 OBP, .450 SLG, .817 OPS
• Player B: .261 BA, .353 OBP, .434 SLG, .787 OPS
Want more information?
• Player A: 12.7 walk rate, 23.2 K rate, 27.2 PA per HR
• Player B: 11.5 walk rate, 17.7 K rate, 30.6 PA per HR
There are some differences between the two players this season.
• Player A: 354 PA, 13 HR, 31 RBI
• Player B: 521 PA, 17 HR, 81 RBI
Players B has taken 167 more plate appearances on the season and has batted almost twice as many times with runners in scoring position (155 plate appearances to 89).
If you have not guessed by now, Player A is Justin Smoak and Player B is Prince Fielder.
The counting stats sway towards Fielder thanks to a wide gulf in 2013 plate appearances. The massive disparity has to do with the plate-appearance gap in general and chances to hit with runners in scoring position specifically. As it turns out, hitting behind Miguel Cabrera has some serious advantages. Three of the top seven hitters with the most plate appearances with RISP play for the Tigers.
• Dustin Pedroia, 170
• Mike Napoli, 158
• Prince Fielder, 155
• Miguel Cabrera, 152
• Jay Bruce, 152
• Brandon Phillips, 152
• Victor Martinez, 150
The other major factor in the RBI gap is that Fielder has been much more productive with his RISP chances. Here are their numbers with RISP:
Fielder: 36 for 131 (.275), 5 HR, 61 RBI, 19 BB
Smoak: 17 for 73 (.233) 1 HR, 16 RBI, 16 BB
However, the RBI difference should not mask the fact that Smoak is having a better season than the hulking Detroit first baseman in terms of percentages. Smoak has quietly made impressive strides in his offensive game over the most recent calendar year.
Over the past 365 days, Smoak is hitting .275 with 19 homers and 24 doubles. He boasts the 38th-best OPS (.827) in baseball during that time for all players with 300 at-bats or more. He finds himself ahead of big names like Pujols, Pedroia, Zimmerman, Holliday and Napoli.
Smoak has been one of the best first basemen in the game for the past month. He maintains the second-best OPS in the American League (.896) behind only Edwin Encarnacion (.952) for all players at his position the last 30 days. He is hitting .361 with four homers in his last 10 games.
What has made the difference?
The approach Smoak has taken has been the catalyst to his offensive awakening. His 12.7 percent walk rate is among the elite in MLB.
• Joey Votto, 16.7
• Shin-Soo-Choo, 14.1
• Miguel Cabrera, 14.1
• Adam Dunn, 13.5
• Mike Trout, 13.5
• Dan Uggla, 13.5
• Dexter Fowler, 13.3
• Paul Goldschmidt, 13.2
• Carlos Santana, 13.2
• Jose Bautista, 13.1
• Justin Smoak, 12.7
• Billy Butler, 12.7
• Edwin Encarnacion, 12.5
• Joe Mauer, 12.4
His previous high in walks came in 2011 with 55. He has already been issued 45 free passes this season and there is still a month and a half to go.
When the ball is in the zone he is whacking it with more authority. His line-drive rate is sitting at a career high 23.6 percent, according to FanGraphs.com. The rate was 18.2 percent last season and 13.8 percent the year before.
He needs just eight doubles and six homers to match career highs in both categories. His batting average is 30 points over his previous high.
What does this mean?
Smoak has clearly secured the first base job for the Mariners moving into next season. Not only should his production over the past calendar year warrant confidence, but his continued progression could land him among the top 10 offensive first basemen in the game in the very near future.
Here are the top first basemen in 2013 according to OPS (miminum 300 at-bats):
1. Chris Davis, 1.054
2. Joey Votto, .943
3. Paul Goldschmidt, .927
4. Edwin Encarnacion, .903
5. Freddie Freeman, .867
6. Allen Craig, .833
7. Kendrys Morales, .818
8. Justin Smoak, .817
9. Brandon Belt, .815
10. Adam Lind, .811
12. Adrian Gonzalez, .809
14. Prince Fielder, .784
15. Ryan Howard, .784
16. Mike Napoli, .778
17. Eric Hosmer, .775
19. Albert Pujols, .767
20. Anthony Rizzo, .764
21. Mitch Moreland, .752
22. Mark Trumbo, .749
23. Justin Morneau, .743
25. Nick Swisher, .735
Smoak is still only 26 years of age so it is reasonable to assume there could be plenty of room for growth moving forward. However, he still maintains tremendous value to the M's even if his progress stalls and he's simply a league-average first baseman.
This is the list of somewhat prominent upcoming free-agent first basemen:
• Lance Berkman
• Jason Giambi
• Travis Hafner
• Paul Konerko
• Casey Kotchman
• James Loney
• Justin Morneau
• Mike Napoli
• Lyle Overbay
• Carlos Pena
• Kevin Youkilis
Not only is it likely Smoak will be better than everyone on the list moving forward, but he is under team control and is not expensive.
The Mariners benefit more from rolling into 2014 with Smoak at first while funneling funds to clear places of need such as spots in the outfield. The more places they can fill now the more resources they can focus in specific positions.
The Mariners are certainly hoping that Smoak will continue to develop into the middle-of-the-order bat they have be salivating for. He has already done enough, however, to earn him the job for 2014.
Sunday, August 11, 2013 @ 1:45pm
The Mariners and their fans spent the weekend celebrating the astonishing career of Ken Griffey Jr. – the dazzling defense, the majestic blasts, the smile, that sweet swing.
Griffey is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who thrilled Seattle baseball fans for over a dozen years. Click on this link to relive some of the greatest moments from Griffey through the wonderful calls of Dave Niehaus and Rick Rizzs.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 @ 12:12pm
By Gary Hill
The stealthy Kyle Seager has engineered one of the best offensive seasons in the American League this year as he has been silently terrorizing big-league pitching.
Seager and the Mariners returned home Monday after taking two of three from the Orioles in Baltimore. One of the beauties of the Baltimore series was to watch two of the best third basemen in baseball expertly apply their craft.
Kyle Seager is quietly having one of the best offensive seasons among AL hitters. (AP)
Scouts lusted after Machado's talents during his high school days in Miami as he drew favorable comparisons to younger versions of Cal Ripken Jr. and Alex Rodriguez. He was drafted third overall in 2010 behind Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Jameson Taillon of the Pirates. He rocketed through Baltimore's minor-league system before vaulting over Triple-A and landing in Baltimore last season. The high-profile Machado has received national acclaim from coast to coast for his impressive play this season.
On the other hand, the attention has been slow to roll in for Seager. He was a third-round draft pick out of North Carolina in 2009. He was overshadowed in his college career by super prospect Dustin Ackley, who was taken by Seattle in the first round of the same draft. Seager only spent parts of three seasons in the minor leagues as well, but his quick flight through the minors barely sent ripples through the baseball community at large.
Despite popular perception, Seager is actually having a slightly better offensive season than Machado.
Seager: .295/.363/.486, 17 HR, 51 RBI, 27 2B, 44 BB, 63 R
Machado: .296/.326/.456, 10 HR, 52 RBI, 40 2B, 20 BB, 65 R
The point of this comparison is not to take anything away from the season that Machado is having. He is in the midst of a truly special year in every sense, especially considering his young age. The intention is to alert the baseball world to Seager.
The case is easily made that Seager is actually having a top 10 to 15 offensive season in the AL. Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis and Mike Trout have separated themselves as the elite of the league. David Ortiz, Edwin Encarnacion, Adrian Beltre, Jason Kipnis, Joe Mauer and Robinson Cano occupy the next tier thanks to spectacular seasons.
Seager is listed among the next group of standout players this year. He maintains the 12th-best OPS in the league (.849). He is 14th in batting average (.295), 14th in on-base percentage (.363) and 14th in slugging (.486). He has tallied the ninth-most hits (127) in the league along with the 11th-most doubles (27). He is 17th in homers (17) and 12th in runs scored (63).
Here are his numbers in comparison to other high-profile AL hitters:
Kyle Seager: .295/.363/.486, 17 HR, 51 RBI, 27 2B, 44 BB
Evan Longoria: .268/.345/.489, 21 HR, 59 RBI, 24 2B, 50 BB
Prince Fielder: .259/.353/.434, 17 HR, 76 RBI, 23 2B, 57 BB
Dustin Pedroia: .294/.373/.411, 8 HR, 66 RBI, 26 2B, 57 BB
Ian Kinsler: .271/.345/.422, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 19 2B, 34 BB
Albert Pujols: .258/.330/.437, 17 HR, 64 RBI, 19 2B, 40 BB
Ben Zobrist: .276/.362/.401, 7 HR, 53 RBI, 26 2B, 52 BB
As long as comparisons are being made, there is one more to come. Seager is 1,334 plate appearances into his big-league career, which spans parts of three seasons. Here is a look at the start of his career compared to an all-time Mariners legend:
1,334 PA, .272 BA, 328 H, 40 HR, 150 RBI, 75 2B, 150 RBI, 103 BB
1,494 PA, .296 BA, 380 H, 27 HR, 131 RBI, 76 2B, 131 RBI, 181 BB
Those 1,494 plate appearances belonged to the first few seasons of Edgar Martinez's career.
Friday, August 2, 2013 @ 8:17am
By Gary Hill
The Mariners suffered their most brutal loss of the season at the hands of the Boston Red Sox Thursday night at Fenway Park. The Sox stormed from behind to plate six in the ninth to sully another brilliant outing from Felix Hernandez.
The bullpen has been an issue for the Mariners this season as they lug the second-worst ERA from relievers to Baltimore. Seattle's 4.65 bullpen ERA is only better than the lofty 5.12 number for the Houston Astros.
Tom Wilhelmsen only yielded two earned runs during the entire first two months of the season. He limited opponents to nine hits while walking just eight. His first 22 outings were bliss, but his most recent 25 have been the complete opposite. He has yielded 21 earned runs over that time frame, including 25 hits and 18 walks. In his first 35 appearances this season, Oliver Perez allowed only five earned runs. He has coughed up nine runs in his last eight games. Yoervis Medina has allowed four earned runs in his last four appearances. Stephen Pryor has been injured for most of the season and Carter Capps was jettisoned to Tacoma after his ERA ballooned to 6.37.
The short-term condition of the bullpen is alarming. There are not many trustworthy options to summon in close games at this point. Charlie Furbush continues to be impressive. He featured a 2.08 July ERA while fanning 16 hitters in 13 innings. Danny Farquhar has pitched very well as of late. He has not been scored upon in his last five outings while accumulating 15 strikeouts in fewer than 10 innings. Furbush or Farquhar may be asked to close games as soon as this weekend in Baltimore.
What about the bullpen in the long view?
Bullpens are a very interesting animal. They are the most volatile instrument on any baseball team and performance can fluctuate wildly from year to year. Here is a look at the top five bullpens from the last three seasons according to ERA:
1. Atlanta Braves, 2.55
2. Kansas City Royals, 2.90
3. Pittsburgh Pirates, 2.91
4. Milwaukee Brewers, 2.96
5. Minnesota Twins, 3.01
1. Cincinnati Reds, 2.65
2. Atlanta Braves, 2.76
3. Tampa Bay Rays, 2.88
4. Oakland Athletics, 2.94
5. Baltimore Orioles, 3.00
1 Atlanta Braves, 3.03
2. San Francisco Giants, 3.04
3. San Diego Padres, 3.05
4. New York Yankees, 3.12
5. Washington Nationals, 3.20
The Atlanta Braves are the only team that shows up on the list more than once. There are 15 teams listed and 13 of them are different.
The Milwaukee Brewers feature the fourth-best bullpen ERA in baseball this season with a 2.96 mark. They were dead last a year with an MLB-high 4.66 ERA. The Baltimore Orioles finished 2011 with a 4.18 bullpen ERA, which was 27th in baseball. They climbed to fifth best last season with a 3.00 mark and they have sunk to the middle of the pack this year (15th at 3.66). In 2011, the Twins had the worst bullpen in baseball according to ERA (4.51). Minnesota finished 17th last season (3.77) and have risen to fifth best this year (3.01). Tampa Bay was third best last season (2.88), but 17th this season (3.70).
The Tampa Bay case emphasizes a common issue with bullpens. The key pieces from the Rays' stellar pen returned nearly intact, but the performances have not come close to equaling their production from just a year ago.
2012: 2-2, 0.60 ERA, 74.2 IP, 5 ER, 15 BB, 76 K
2013: 3-2, 3.92 ERA, 43.2 IP, 19 ER, 28 BB, 59 K
2012: 2-6, 3.63 ERA, 67 IP, 27 ER, 17 BB, 84 K
2013: 1-4, 2.96 ERA, 45.2 IP, 15 ER, 21 BB, 47 K
2012: 5-2, 1.95 ERA, 55.1 IP, 12 ER, 11 BB, 73 K
2013: 2-3, 4.46 ERA, 40.1 IP, 19 ER, 28 BB, 59 K
2012: 1-6, 4.00 ERA, 27 IP, 12 ER, 14 BB, 25 K
2013: 2-0, 5.46 ERA, 28 IP, 17 ER, 7 BB, 18 K
2012: 3-2, 3.03 ERA, 62.1 IP, 21 ER, 12 BB, 42 K
2013: 2-1, 3.52 ERA, 46 IP, 18 ER, 16 BB, 44 K
Fernando Rodney is the greatest current example of bullpen performance varying from year to year.
Injuries are always a major factor when it comes to bullpen performance. Jason Motte, Eric O'Flaherty, Andrew Bailey, Jonny Venters, Ryan Madson, Sean Marshall, Joel Hanrahan and Brian Wilson are just a handful of the high-profile back-of-the-bullpen pitchers who have been severely affected by injury this season. There are estimates that nearly 35 percent of relief pitchers will hit the disabled list in a given season.
There is also the burnout issue with relievers, which seems to affect closers in particular. Over the last 10 seasons there have been 116 different pitchers who have saved at least 20 games in a season. Mariano Rivera (10 times), Jonathan Papelbon (nine), Joe Nathan (eight), Francisco Cordero (eight) and Billy Wagner (seven) are the exceptions. Heath Bell (three), Frank Francisco (two) and Rocky Biddle (one) are closer to the rule. As quickly as Matt Mantei, Yhency Brazoban, Chris Ray, Eric Gagne, Danny Kolb, Derrick Turnbow or B.J Ryan burst onto the scene is as swiftly as they fade away.
It is all about the timing
Joel Hanrahan was the All-Star closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates the previous two seasons as he collected a total of 76 saves. His ERA was 1.83 in 2011 and 2.72 in 2012. The Pirates dealt their lock-down closer to the relief-starved Boston Red Sox for Stolmy Pimentel, Ivan De Jesus, Mark Melancon and Jerry Sands.
Melancon struggled mightily with the Red Sox (0-2, 6.20 ERA) last season. He was an effective closer for the Houston Astros down the stretch in 2011, but his struggles in 2012 earned him a one-way ticket out of Beantown. Melancon has been an All-Star this season with Pittsburgh. He has only yielded five earned runs on the season in more than 51 innings. He has fanned 49 batters to go along with his tidy 0.88 ERA. He gave up more runs in his fourth appearance in Boston (six earned runs) than he has in his entire run in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates elected to sign veteran reliever Jason Grilli to replace Hanrahan and he has turned himself into an All-Star as well. Before going down with an injury he saved 30 games and has struck out 66 hitters in 42 innings. His season ERA sits a 2.34.
The Pirates also snagged Vin Mazzaro from the Kansas City Royals in the offseason. Mazzaro spent two years in Kansas City as a not-very-effective starter and reliever. His ERA was near 7.00. He has become an effective part of the Pirates' pen this year (6-2, 2.92 ERA). Tony Watson and Justin Wilson are two lefties who have come up through their system who complete the pen.
The Pirates finished the 2012 season with the 11th-best bullpen ERA in baseball at 3.36. They proceeded to trade their All-Star closer during the winter. Now they feature a pen with the third-best ERA in MLB at 2.91.
Effective bullpens can be built quickly and the key is to time it with contention. The Pirates are sitting in first place in the National League Central with an impressive 65-43 record. They boast the best winning percentage in the game.
How does it apply to the future for the Mariners?
Despite the excruciating nature of the bullpen failure Thursday night in Boston, it should not affect how you view the overall direction of this team.
This is obviously easier said than done given the crushing nature of late-inning losses, but Tom Wilhelmsen not recording an out has no bearing at all on Kyle Seager developing into one of the best hitters in the American League. If you feel fantastic about Brad Miller and Nick Franklin as the double-play combo of the future then the fact that Oliver Perez struggled should not dim your optimistic view. If you think Mike Zunino is the catcher of the future then Yoervis Medina not being able to put out the fire does not change that. If you felt good about the direction of this team three days ago then what happened in Boston should not change that.
There is nothing more frustrating for fans than a bullpen that consistently coughs up leads and the point of this exercise is not to squelch your anger after a game like Thursday night's. The bullpen has the second-worst ERA in baseball and all indications are that it will continue to struggle in the near future.
However, the bullpen struggles have no bearing on what will potentially make this team good in the long term. The remainder of this season will continue to be about growing the young core.
Thursday, August 1, 2013 @ 1:10pm
By Gary Hill
Not only did Kyle Seager tie the game against the Sox with a solo homer in the eighth inning Wednesday, but he pushed his July batting average over the .400 mark. Alas, Seager would not stay above the line for long as the game wandered deep into the night. Seager would strike out in his final at-bat of the game to sink his average slightly below .400.
However, it was an incredible month for the Mariners third baseman. Seager hit .396 with six homers and 14 RBIs. He cranked five doubles and scored 21 runs along the way. His 1.100 OPS was second best in the American League for July behind Mike Trout (1.108).
To celebrate Seager's sensational month, here is a look at the greatest offensive months in the history of the Mariners:
10. Alvin Davis, April 1984
Davis did not start the season with the Mariners and made his debut April 11 against Boston. He smashed a three-run homer off of Dennis Eckersley in his second Major League at-bat and he never looked back. He piled up seven homers and 17 RBIs despite missing half the month. He hit .369 and his 1.223 OPS is 12th best in Mariners history for one month. It was one of the best debut rookie months in baseball history and A.D. used it to propel him to a landslide victory in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Alvin Davis, SEA: 134 points (25 first-place votes)
Mark Langston, SEA: 82 points (3)
Kirby Puckett, MIN: 23 points (0)
Tim Teufel, MIN: 5 points (0)
Mike Young, BAL: 3 points (0)
Roger Clemens, BOS: 2 points (0)
9. Ken Griffey Jr., July 1996
Griffey missed a significant portion of the month with a broken hamate bone and did not take his first at-bat until July 14 against the California Angels. He made up for lost time by belting 11 homers and driving in 30 runs in just 18 games. He went for multi-homers three times in the month and drove in three runs or more seven times. He also hit a superb .361 for the month. Think about the numbers he would have accumulated had he been healthy and played a full month.
8. Jay Buhner, September/October 1995
Buhner cranked 14 homers and drove in 33 runs during the close of 1995. The home-run total stands as the second most in a month in Mariners history and the RBI tally is tied for the lead. At one point Buhner launched bombs in five straight games. He homered in seven of nine games during one stretch and the Mariners went 7-2 during that time. The Mariners would eventually tie the Angels for the division and Buhner's massive production was a big reason why.
Ken Griffey Jr. started his MVP season in 1997 with a bang, hitting .340 with 13 home runs and 30 RBIs in April. (AP)
Griffey started the year in style with a .340/.420/.786 slash line. He smashed 13 homers and drove in 30 runs for the month. He scored 25 times and took 12 free passes. When the fifth game of the season was complete he had already hit five homers. On the final day of the month the Mariners boasted a 16-11 record and held a half-game lead over the Rangers for first place in the AL West.
6. Edgar Martinez, June 1995
Edgar hit an incredible .402 while driving in 32 runs. He clubbed eight homers and nine doubles and also walked 28 times. He lived on base and his .537 on-base percentage proves it. Griffey missed the entire month of June that season, but Edgar more than picked up the slack and set up the late-season heroics for the Mariners.
5. Ichiro, August 2004
Ichiro set a Mariners record by pounding out an eye-popping 56 hits in a month. He also secured a Mariners record with his .463 batting average. In 27 games he went 56 for 121. He also mixed in four homers, three doubles, three triples and four stolen bases. He began August hitting .346 and ended it at .371. He would finish the season at .372, which won him his second batting title.
4. Ken Griffey Jr., May 1994
Griffey smashed a club-record 15 homers for the month. He drove in 25 runs and walked 16 times. His 1.244 OPS is sixth in Mariners history in month for players with at least 75 at-bats. He also hit .333. Griffey hit 40 homers for the season, which led the American League, despite only playing in 111 games due to the strike.
3. Alex Rodriguez, August 1996
A-Rod surged towards the 1996 batting title with a .435 month. He whacked nine homers and 11 doubles. He drove in 28 runs and scored 30 on his own. He managed 11 walks while compiling a total of 54 hits. His slash line was a silly .435/.474/.758.
2. Edgar Martinez, May 2000
This was an absolutely beautiful month of hitting. Edgar tallied at least one hit in all but two games for the entire month. He hit .441 while crushing 10 homers. He launched eight doubles and found time to walk 15 times. His slash line of .441/.508/.814 would be difficult to replicate in a video game. His 1.322 OPS for the month is the second best in Mariners history. He drove in 32 runs and scored 24 of his own. Edgar was a monster in 2000, hitting .324 with 37 home runs, 145 RBIs, 31 doubles and 96 walks. He was a big part of the foundation for an offense that reached the ALCS.
1. Edgar Martinez, August 1995
The suggestion is to frame these numbers and hang them on the wall. They should be looked at often. Edgar steamrolled pitching to the tune of .398/.560/.786 for the month. Edgar drew an amazing 31 bases on balls and hit nine homers. He ripped 11 doubles and scored 31 runs. His 1.345 OPS is the best an M's player has ever produced in a month with at least 75 at-bats. It can be argued that August 1995 was the most important month in franchise history and Edgar rose the occasion and help lead the Mariners' fierce comeback. He reached bases an incredible 77 times in just 29 games. He drove in more than a run a game and scored more than a run a game. Players have only topped a 1.300 OPS for a month 148 times since 1916. His OPS for the month is 43rd since 1916 for players with at least 120 plate appearances. He truly put together one of the best offensive months in the history of the game.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 @ 10:33am
By Gary Hill
Kyle Seager has been feasting on pitching. The sizzling third baseman is hitting .384 with five homers and 12 RBIs in July. His numbers rank with the very best in the American League for the month.
Mike Trout leads the league in OPS in July (1.078) followed by Edwin Encarnacion (1.065), Seager (1.060) and Miguel Cabrera (1.059). Seager has pushed his season average up to .293 to go along with his 16 homers and 48 RBIs.
Seager has taken another step forward after a solid first campaign in the big leagues. He swatted 20 homers a year ago while driving in 86 runs. He hit .259 in 155 games.
His rapid development has made me wonder exactly where his ceiling is, so I took the question to the people during the postgame show on Saturday. The question I asked was, "Who do you think Kyle Seager will become as a hitter?"
The response was fascinating. Here is a list of just a few of the players people mentioned during the show:
Aramis Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, David Wright, Jim Presley, Shawn Green, Brooks Robinson, Wade Boggs, Ron Cey, Alex Gordon , Gary Gaetti, Graig Nettles, Matt Williams, Craig Biggio, Lou Whitaker, David Bell, Andy Van Slyke, Pete Rose. Chipper Jones, Eric Chavez, Ryne Sandberg, Paul Molitor, B.J. Surhoff and dozens of others. Many of these names were volleyed in several times.
The quality of the list is surely a compliment to what he has achieved and what is possible down the road for the young slugger. However, there were three names that rose to the top when projecting Seager.
The former UCLA standout developed into one of the best hitters in the game for a seven-year period before injuries slowed him down. He finished among the top 10 in MVP voting three times and he secured five straight All-Star selections. He was a vital middle-of-the-order bat for a Phillies team that appeared in the postseason five straight seasons and reached the World Series in 2008 and 2009. They claimed the crown when they took out Tampa Bay in 2008.
Utley scored over 100 runs three times, whacked over 20 homers five times, drove in over 100 runs four times and hit over .290 four times. His best season was arguably in 2007, when he hit .332/.410/.566 with 22 home runs, 103 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 104 runs and 48 doubles.
Utley broke into the big leagues in 2003. Here is how his first three years stack up next to Seager's:
Utley, 2003: 152 PA, .239/.322/.373, 2 HR, 21 RBI
Seager, 2011: 201 PA, .258/.312/.379, 3 HR, 13 RBI
Utley, 2004: 287 PA, .266/.308/.468, 13 HR, 57 RBI
Seager, 2012: 651 PA, .259/.316/.423, 20 HR, 86 RBI
Utley, 2005: 628 PA, .291/.376/.540, 28 HR, 105 RBI, 39 2B
Seager, 2013: 449 PA, .293/.356/.481, 16 HR, 48 RBI, 26 2B
The 2013 season for Seager still has two months to go so he has a chance to run down Utley in some of the counting stats. One wonders if Seager is sitting on the same escalator Utley rode. In 2006, at age 27, Utley put together a massive season, hitting .309 with 32 home runs, 102 RBIs, 131 runs, 40 doubles and 15 stolen bases. Perhaps Seager is sitting on a similar season in 2014 as a 26-year-old.
The constantly underrated Anderson was one of the best pure hitters of his generation. He was a key cog for an Angels team that won it all in 2002. He was often overshadowed by fellow Angels sluggers Tim Salmon, Troy Glaus and Darin Erstad, but his production should never be overlooked.
Anderson was a lifetime .293 hitter in 17 MLB seasons. He launched 287 career homers while ripping 522 doubles. He was a two-bag machine. He led the AL in doubles two years in a row (56 in 2002 and 49 in 2003). He only hit more than 30 home runs in a season one time, but he hit at least 16 homers nine times. He drove in over 100 runs on four occasions.
Anderson's best season came in 2002 when he hit .306 and belted 29 homers, hit 56 doubles, and drove in 123 runs. One of the few faults in Anderson's game was that he was not one to walk much. Seager took 46 free passes last season, which is more than Anderson ever was issued in any single season.
Nevertheless, the power profile for Seager projects to be very similar to Anderson. Here is the 162-game average for Anderson in his career: .293, 21 home runs, 99 RBIs and 38 doubles. The prospect of Seager turning into Anderson is exciting, but the potential of him turning into more is exhilarating.
Brett was the name that was mentioned during the show the most by a large amount, which is a compliment to Seager of the highest order. Brett is one of the best third basemen and most accomplished hitters to ever play the game.
The former MVP made 13 straight trips to the All-Star game. He won three batting titles, including in 1980 when he hit .390. He lead the AL in doubles twice in his career and reached the 40-plateau five times. He launched over 20 homers eight times, including a career-high 30 in 1985. He racked up 3,154 career hits and scored 1,583 runs.
He is a Hall of Famer who played 21 years in the majors. He hit .370 in the 1985 World Series as the Royals vanquished the St. Louis Cardinals.
Here is how Brett's first three seasons compare to Seager's:
Brett, 1973: 41 PA, .125/.125/.175, 0 HR, 0 RBI
Brett, 1974: 486 PA, .282/.313/.363, 2 HR, 47 RBI, 21 2B
Seager, 2011: 201 PA, .258/.312/.379, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 13 2B
Brett, 1975: 697 PA, .308/.353/.456, 11 HR, 90 RBI, 35 2B
Seager, 2012: 651 PA, .259/.316/.423, 20 HR, 86 RBI, 35 2B
Brett, 1976: 705 PA, .333/.377/.462, 7 HR, 67 RBI, 34 2B
Seager, 2013: 449 PA, .293/.356/.481, 16 HR, 48 RBI, 26 2B
This is not a comparison I take lightly. I generally do not make it a practice to compare young players to Hall of Famers because of how unlikely it actually is to achieve that type success. Not only was Brett the name that came up most often during the show, but I was convinced to consider the comparison in a separate conversation over the weekend when the name "Brett" was dropped in relation to Seager by someone I trust.
The fact that Seager can even be compared to Brett at this stage of his career should make Mariners fans smile. The chances of him reaching Brett's ultra-elite level are slim, but landing anywhere close will make him one of the best hitters in the game. Whether it be Brett, Anderson, Utley or someone unnamed, it appears the Mariners have a key piece to build their lineup around.
Who do you think Seager can be? Please tweet me or leave a comment because I would love to know what you think.
Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 12:57pm
By Gary Hill
Nick Franklin continued his sizzling start to his career on Sunday by battering the Twins with twin long balls. Franklin smashed his ninth and 10th homers on the way to driving in four of the Mariners' six runs. It is the second time in his young career he has swatted two homers in a game. His stellar production has pushed him towards the top of the American League Rookie of the Year race.
Franklin is among the AL rookie leaders in several key offensive categories:
Nick Franklin, 10
Conor Gillaspie, 9
Aaron Hicks, 8
Wil Myers, 7
Nick Franklin, 32
Aaron Hicks, 27
Wil Myers, 26
Conor Gillaspie, 25
Oswaldo Arcia, 25
Wil Myers, .537
Nick Franklin, .492
David Lough, .441
Jose Iglesias, .410
Jose Iglesias, .377
Wil Myers, .345
Nick Franklin, .340
J.B. Shuck, .326
On-base plus slugging
Wil Myers, .891
Nick Franklin, .832
Jose Iglesias, .787
David Lough, .756
J.B. Shuck, 13
Nick Franklin, 12
David Lough, 11
Aaron Hicks, 11
Oswaldo Arcia, 11
Brandon Barnes, 9
Aaron Hicks, 8
Nick Franklin, 5
Wil Myers, 4
J.B. Shuck, 4
Bases on balls
Conor Gillaspie, 25
Aaron Hicks, 24
Nick Franklin, 19
Robbie Grossman, 17
Jose Iglesias, .330
Wil Myers, .328
David Lough, .297
J.B. Shuck, .283
Nick Franklin, .277
Franklin has been cooking in July. He is tied with Chris Davis and Torii Hunter for the fifth-most homers in the league this month. He is just one long ball behind some guy named Miguel Cabrera. He has driven in 17 runs in the month, which is fourth best in the league and tied with several players, including Cabrera.
Franklin is just one of four AL second basemen to reach double-digit homers:
Robinson Cano, 21
Jason Kipnis, 15
Howie Kendrick, 11
Nick Franklin, 10
The difference, of course, is that the three players ahead of him have already surpassed 400 plate appearances while Franklin has just 215 under his belt.
Rays rookie Wil Myers has lived up to expectations so far, hitting .328 with seven homers and 26 RBIs in 33 games. (AP)
He already has the advantage of a high profile after being swapped during the offseason along with three other players by the Royals for James Shields and Wade Davis. At one point Myers was listed as the fourth-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. Myers has certainly met his lofty expectations in the first few weeks of his career.
If Sunday is any indication then the race for AL Rookie of the Year should be fabulous to watch. Myers blasted two homers in Yankee Stadium early on Sunday only to be matched by the pair from Franklin later in the day.
Rookie of the Year races are the most volatile among the awards because of the nature of rookies. Races can dramatically change in the matter of a week because of the roller-coaster existence of first-year players. At this point of the season it does not look like another hitter will step up and challenge this dynamic rookie duo.
However, there is a pitcher who is looking to turn one of the best months a rookie pitcher has ever had into a campaign launch. Tampa Bay's Chris Archer went 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA in five July starts. He only yielded 17 hits in 37 innings. He was 2-3 with a 4.40 ERA in June. He has only coughed up one run in his last four starts including a two-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium in his most recent turn. He will steamroll the competition if he continues to deal at this ridiculously high level.
Friday, July 26, 2013 @ 11:51am
By Gary Hill
The Mariners snatched the Major League Baseball lead for runs in the month of July from the Dodgers Thursday night. The M's have piled up 117 tallies this month while belting 30 homers. They boast the second-best OPS in baseball at .814.
The intoxicating offensive production has helped the Mariners surge to nine wins in their last 10 games. They are 14-6 in July and have won five of their last six series.
The stirring element of the recent production level is the amount the young core has contributed. In the month of July, Justin Smoak, Nick Franklin, Kyle Seager, Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Mike Zunino and Brad Miller have shouldered the majority of the offensive load.
The sensational seven have combined to go 131 for 463 (.283) with 17 home runs, 76 RBIs, 30 doubles, three triples, 53 walks and 82 runs in 129 July games.
Justin Smoak: .324, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R, 6 2B, 8 BB
Nick Franklin: .217, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 8 R, 2 2B, 7 BB
Kyle Seager: .378, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 20 R, 4 2B, 9 BB
Michael Saunders: .271, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 14 R, 6 2B, 7 BB
Dustin Ackley: .286, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R, 6 2B, 6 BB
Mike Zunino: .254, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 10 R, 2 2B, 7 BB
Brad Miller: .241, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 12 R, 4 2B, 9 BB
• The Mariners own the fourth-most plate appearances in baseball for players in their age 25-year-old season or younger.
• Kyle Seager is hitting .378 in July. There have been only nine different Mariners to hit at least .375 in a month since 2000 (minimum of 50 at-bats).
Ichiro: 13 times
John Olerud: Twice
Edgar Martinez: .441 in May 2000
Jeremy Reed: .397 in September/October 2004
Raul Ibanez: .396 in August 2008
Willie Bloomquist: .385 in June 2007
Brendan Ryan: .384 in May 2011
Ruben Sierra: .382 in April/March 2002
Kenji Johjima: .375 in August 2007
• Felix Hernandez, who will start Friday night against Minnesota, is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four July starts. He has tossed 28 innings and allowed just four runs. Teammates Miller, Franklin and Zunino have never seen him lose a game. Hernandez lost most recently on May 25 against the Rangers. He yielded five earned runs in that start. He has given up 18 runs in the next 10 turns.
The lowest career ERAs for Hernandez against American League teams:
1. Tampa Bay, 2.04
2. Houston, 2.00
3. Minnesota, 2.17
4. Detroit, 2.51
5. Oakland, 2.60
Hernandez went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA against the Twins in 17 innings last season.
• Franklin crushed his eighth home run of the season Thursday night. There have been five other Mariners second baseman to hit more in a season.
Bret Boone: Five times (37 in 2001, 35 in 2003, 24 in 2004, 24 in 2002, 12 in 1993)
Jose Lopez: Four times (25 in 2009, 17 in 2008, 11 in 2007, 10 in 2006)
David Bell: 21 in 1999
Dustin Ackley: 12 in 2012
Joey Cora: 11 in 1997
• The Mariners have tallied 14 wins in July. The most wins they have secured in a month since 2003 was 19 in May of that year. The Mariners would need to win the remaining five games of the month to equal that total.
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