When Kyle Seager’s son, Crue, threw out the first pitch on October 3rd, 2021, Mariners fans were focused on one thing: sneaking into the playoffs. At the time, the Mariners were one game out of the second wild card spot with one left to play. Scoreboard watching was a common theme that day both for the fans that filled T-Mobile Park and baseball fans all over the world. But for Kyle Seager, it was a culmination of his fantastic, at times under-appreciated, 11-year career. It was such a great moment for Kyle, his wife Julie, his son Crue, and his two daughters Audrey and Emelyn. Tears filled the face of Kyle and many others in attendance. But now that Kyle Seager has recently announced his retirement on his wife’s Instagram, that moment seems even larger. That moment, and that day, was a microcosm of Kyle Seager’s career as a Mariner: special.
Kyle Seager was drafted in the third round of the 2009 draft by the Seattle Mariners. He played his college baseball as a Tarheel at the University of North Carolina. At UNC, Kyle hit .353 with 17 home runs, 66 doubles, and 167 RBIs. In 2008, he set the school record for doubles in a season with 30. He was also a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which is an award given to the best amateur (college) baseball player in the United States. But, despite that, he was picked later than his former teammate at UNC, Dustin Ackley. The Mariners selected Ackley with the second overall pick. Ackley collected many accolades at UNC, including National Freshman of the Year in 2007 and ACC Baseball Player of the Year in 2009. Now, I’m not stating this to try to claim that the Mariners chose the wrong player in the first round of 2009 draft, because at the time, they chose the player that they believed fit the organization the best. But, I do think that it is very important to note. “Everybody loves a prospect,” Kyle Seager told Ryan Divish in the early part of 2021. “I was never a prospect”. Coming out of UNC, Kyle was not scouted as heavily as others around him. He wasn’t sought after by many teams. But, when the Mariners decided to draft him in the third round that year, they were not only drafting a 6’1″, 187 lb. second baseman from Charlotte, North Carolina, they were drafting all of the intangibles and unteachables that he brings to an organization and to a team.
The accolades and statistics that Kyle Seager was able to pile up as a Mariner were nothing short of incredible. He finished his career with a slash line of .251/.321/.442 with 242 HRs, 807 RBIs, 1,395 hits, and 705 runs scored. He collected 36.9 WAR in his 11-year career, all of which were spent in a Mariners uniform. He also won a Gold Glove award in 2014, a year where he finished 20th in AL MVP voting and made his lone All Star Game appearance. Not only did Seager rack up impressive career statistics, I can say with utmost certainty that he is one of the best to ever do it in the city of Seattle and is one of the best Mariners ever. He ranks in the top five in franchise history in games played, plate appearances, at-bats, hits, runs scored, doubles, home runs, total bases, RBIs, walks, and WAR. To highlight a few, he is fourth all time in games played (1,480), fourth all time in at-bats (5561), fifth all time in runs scored (705), fourth all time in hits (1395), third all time in doubles (309), fourth all time in home runs (242), and fifth all time in BB (533). In addition, Kyle Seager was incredibly durable and incredibly consistent. He played in 93% of Mariners games since his debut in 2011, good for around 151 games per 162. He only made one trip to the IL in 11 seasons, which is simply astounding. So, based on these career numbers and the fact that he played for no other team but the M’s, it’s logical to say that the third round pick from UNC most definitely should’ve have been “a prospect”.
Additionally, Seager was so important to each and everyone of his teammates in his tenure with the Mariners. He was supportive, yet honest, and was an unwavering and committed leader. Players such as Mitch Haniger and J.P. Crawford were not shy when expressing their appreciation for Seager and their wish to have the third baseman return for years to come. “Ten more years” was the common quote coming from players in the organization and around the league. Knowing that Seager’s contract was coming to an end, it was no secret how his teammates felt. They wanted him back at all costs, which I believe shows how much he meant to the city and the team.
Most importantly, Seager’s loyalty to the Mariners and the city of Seattle was second to none. He experienced a certain level disappointment, as the Mariners have struggled mightily to make the playoffs. He experienced front office turnover, including the GM transition from Jack Zduriencik to Jerry Dipoto. He had three different managers, with the latest being the Mariners current manager, Scott Servais. But when all of these factors wavered, Kyle did not. When Robinson Canó was traded, Kyle was there. When Nelson Cruz left, Kyle was there. When franchise legends Félix Hernández and Ichiro Suzuki left, Kyle was there. His belief in this organization and his teammates was truly astounding and as a Mariners fan, something to always be thankful for.
Personally, Kyle Seager was more than the everyday third baseman for my favorite MLB team. He was a role model, teaching people like me skills and values that developed me as a baseball player and a human being. Work ethic, level-headedness, and perseverance were among the things Seager instilled into many young, hopeful baseball fans around Seattle and around the world. Although he received his fair share of criticism and doubt throughout the ups and downs of his MLB career, the impact that he had on the organization was undoubtedly pivotal. He was nothing but a true professional, and any success that this up and coming Mariners team has would not have been possible without the contributions he made to help build a winning culture. I can’t say enough about the impact Kyle Seager had on me, and the picture below is a microcosm of the warmth and love that the Pacific Northwest will forever have for the third baseman:
To Kyle, thank you. Thank you for your Gold Glove defense. Thank you for your many homers. Thank you for embracing the city of Seattle and being a Mariner. Thank you for being you.
Featured Photo: https://twitter.com/Mariners/media