The still-to-be-determined start of the 2020 MLB season has added an interesting wrinkle to fantasy baseball draft prep. We here at SI Fantasy want to provide you with the best information possible heading into your drafts in these unprecedented times.
Our "Draft or Pass" video series takes a closer look at a fantasy player that will be debated often leading up to fantasy drafts, in many cases, because of the delayed start to the season. Are our hosts targeting this player specifically? Are they avoiding him entirely?
Today's feature focuses on Seattle Mariners 3B Kyle Seager.
Draft or Pass at current ADP: 260 (3B35)
Last year, Mariners 3B Kyle Seager set a career-high in ISO while hitting more home runs in nearly 200 fewer at-bats than a season ago. Seager socked 23 dingers in 2019 in just 443 plate appearances, compared to 22 in 630 PAs in 2018.
He's had eight consecutive 20+ HR seasons, never had a slugging percentage south of .400, and improved his walk rate to the second-highest number of his career.
And yet, Seager finds himself as the 35th option off the board at third base, largely undrafted in most leagues after 20 rounds.
What isn't adding up?
For starters, throughout most of 2019, Seager was never healthy. In the middle of March, he had surgery to fix a tendon issue in his left (batting) hand and was forced to miss eight weeks of the season. He didn't get his season together until after the All-Star Break, hitting .203 with 6 HR, 18 RBI and a .371 SLG in 38 games, before turning it up in the second half: .260 BA, 17 HR, 45 RBI, and a .524 SLG.
Even after brutal start, he finished with a .321 OBP, a .332 wOBA, and a WAR of just under 3, good enough for 20th among third basemen with 400 PA.
His approach (strikeout rate – 19.9 and walk rate – 9.9) moved in a favorable direction. He continues to have a low CTBA (.306) while setting a career-high in his AVH (1.957). Surprisingly, Seager was a much better hitter against left-handed pitching (.285 with 11 HRs and 25 RBI over 130 at-bats) than righties (.217 with 12 HRs and 38 RBI over 263 at-bats). His hard-hit rate (39.7) came in at 168th, and he raised his HR/FB rate (17.0) to the highest level of his career.
Seager continues to have a fly ball swing (43.8 percent). He has 20 or more home runs in each of his eight seasons, but his batting average has been a liability in each of his past three seasons (.249, .221, and .239). Not a bad backend swing at third base based on his ADP (379), as he should hit in the middle of the Mariners' batting order with an 80/25/80 skill set.
While Seager is competing in a premiere power position of third base, it's important to view his consistency over the last eight years. Factor in an improved hard-hit rate and HR/FB rate, and Seager over a limited season could surprise fantasy owners with his production hitting cleanup in the Mariners lineup.
I'd draft Seager as a late-round flier ahead of his current ADP of 260 and hope that the health remains for a solid bounceback season in Seattle.
READ MORE: 2020 Seattle Mariners Fantasy Team Preview