Seattle’s third baseman has long had an April aversion. Maybe it’s him shaking off rust, maybe it’s him finding his groove, or maybe it’s just a fascinating coincidence. But Seager’s past week and a half is an indication, it appears April showers have again brought May power.
In this town, it’s not always easy to distinguish May from April.
Clouds still linger. Rain still pours. Temperatures still dip.
But if we’re talking about the Mariners, there is an ever-reliable indicator that the second month of the season is upon us: Kyle Seager is hitting again.
For whatever reason, Seattle’s third baseman has long had an April aversion. Last year he hit .159 during the first month. In 2015 just two of his 26 home runs came before May. In April 2014 Seager hit .229, his worst batting average of any month that year. And this year he had just one home run in April, marking the first time since 2013 that he hit fewer than two dingers in a month.
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Maybe it’s him shaking off rust, maybe it’s him finding his groove, or maybe it’s just a fascinating coincidence. But if Seager’s past week and a half is an indication, it appears April showers have again brought May power.
“You go on little runs, weeks where you hit a lot of homers. It comes and goes,” said Seager, who entered Wednesday’s game vs. Oakland hitting .254 with four home runs and 22 RBI. “You can’t stress about hitting home runs, or a lot of other things will go awry.”
Seager said that Tuesday afternoon, a few hours before socking an eighth-inning solo home run off A’s reliever Ryan Madison to give the Mariners a one-run lead in a game Oakland went on to win. One night earlier, he took reliever Liam Hendricks deep in the eighth — this time with a runner on — to give the M’s insurance in a game they won 6-5.
There also was the 4-3 win vs. the Rangers on May 7, when Seager provided Seattle with the go-ahead run via a solo blast in, yes … the eighth inning.
In other words, Seager hasn’t just been potent for the Mariners this month, he has been clutch as well. If the bullpen would have been able to hang on Tuesday (yes, that’s an Everest-sized “if”), a Seager home run would have been the difference in three games over a 10-day stretch.
Meanwhile, his 22 RBI entering Wednesday were third on the team behind Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano, and his 18 walks were second only to Cruz. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news? It still hasn’t been a stellar offensive year for the 29-year-old.
Before Wednesday night, Seager’s .396 slugging percentage was eighth on the team — 48 points below his career percentage, and .103 points below his percentage last year. His OPS (.735) also was eighth among Mariners (well, Mariners not named Yovani Gallardo, the pitcher who has two at-bats this year).
On Tuesday, Seattle manager Scott Servais acknowledged that Seager hadn’t been driving the ball like in years past. He also expressed zero concern about the power coming back.
The slow start is customary for Seager — an early spring tradition. But he also has to keep this resurgence going for his team’s sake.
Obviously, offense wasn’t the key factor in the Mariners’ 18-22 start entering Wednesday. At that point, Seattle was tied for eighth in MLB for runs scored.
Injuries to four pitchers in the starting rotation and an MLB-worst 5.45 bullpen ERA were the primary reasons the M’s already were 10 games behind the Astros in the AL West.
But with so many players sidelined — including Cano — more responsibility falls on Seager’s shoulders.
He knows that.
A couple points of note: Asked Tuesday if his offensive struggles bothered him, Seager replied that he didn’t care whatsoever as long as his team wins.
He also dismissed the idea that there was more pressure to perform because of his $100 million contract.
“I signed that a few years ago,” Seager said, adding that he stays off social media and doesn’t listen to critics. “You play the game trying to win the game. If you’re winning, everything’s great. Obviously we’re not winning, so things need to improve a little bit, but I signed that a few years ago, so I’m really not that stressed.”
It’s not hard to believe him.
One term Servais has mentioned throughout his time as skipper is “track record.” Seager has it.
Has his season been going well? Overall, not so much.
But all indications suggest it’s about to get going.