When Kyle Seager stepped into the batter’s box of the Oakland Coliseum on Sunday afternoon, it marked his 60th game in MLB’s shortened 60-game season.
Seager started 59 of the Mariners’ games (53 at third base and six as designated hitter). The only game he didn’t start was Aug. 2 against Oakland. He appeared as a pinch hitter and defensive replacement.
“He will play in all 60 games this year, and I don’t know how many guys in the league have done that, but it’s something he takes a lot of pride in, being able to play every day,” manager Scott Servais said in video call Sunday. “And I certainly appreciate it as the manager. He’s meant a lot to our club, and it’s nice to see him getting rewarded here at the end. He’s really swinging the bat well.”
Because he was traded at the deadline from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Miami Marlins and the scheduling quirks, outfielder Starling Marte played in 61 games this season — the most of any player in baseball. Thirteen other players played in 60 games this season. Marte started 60 of the 61 games. Four players started every game for their respective teams — Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals, Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians and Dansby Swanson of the Atlanta Braves.
Being available to play every day or “post,” as they call it in baseball, has been Seager’s calling card since he became the Mariners’ everyday third baseman in 2012, supplanting the underachieving Chone Figgins.
In a stretch of seven seasons, Seager played in more than 150 games per season.
- 2012: 155
- 2013: 160
- 2014: 159
- 2015: 161
- 2016: 158
- 2017: 154
- 2018: 155
Last season, a hand injury suffered in spring training that required surgery caused him to miss the first two months of the season and limited him to 106 games.
If he’s healthy, Seager wants and expects to play every day.
“Absolutely,” he said in a video call. “That’s my job. That’s what I’m here to do. I think you all know that for me that was always the goal, the plan. Playing 162, that’s always been the goal every single year; it hasn’t always worked out. I find ways to miss games here and there. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do that. And 60 is not the same as 162, but I kind of take pride in showing up every day ready to play.”
Seager finished with a .241/.355/.433 slash line with 12 doubles, nine homers, 40 RBI, 32 walks, 33 strikeouts and five stolen bases.
“Kyle has been huge,” Servais said. “Certainly on the field, he’s been very productive and probably having one of the most consistent seasons he’s had. But behind the scenes, showing up, going through our early work every day, he hasn’t missed a day.”
From Aug. 3 to Sept. 7, Seager reached base safely in 24 of the 31 games, including 20 games with at least one hit. He batted .282 over that stretch with six doubles, six homers, 20 RBI and 14 walks.
His numbers took a hit during a brutal 12-game stretch where he had two hits in 53 plate appearances with three RBI, 12 walks and eight strikeouts. The shortened schedule magnified the slump.
“Like they always say, you’re gonna have two big slumps a year,” Seager said. “That was one of them. But when you’re playing a third of the games, it is definitely magnified. Thankfully, I was able to work some walks in there. I think that minimizes it, for sure.”
The 2021 season will likely be his last with the organization that drafted him, made him a third-round pick in 2009 out of North Carolina, developed him, handed him the starting job at third base and signed him to a $100 million extension. That contract and its poison-pill clause if he were to be traded has been discussed often, and it’s the main reason he’s still with an organization in a rebuild.
And while he would have welcomed a trade to a postseason contender, he has tried to embrace the young players around him and be a teacher and mentor when needed.
“We’ve definitely made some strides,” Seager said. “You’ve got some pieces that you can see moving forward. Guys played hard. The effort was there. We stole a lot of bases. We played pretty good defense. There are definitely things to like. Our pitching was solid, we had some starters step up and establish themselves, and I thought our infield defense, J.P. Crawford was phenomenal. He took a big step forward. I thought he was tremendous this year.”