Of the many comments that came from players at Saturday’s FanFest, perhaps the most interesting and important came from Kyle Seager. When asked by Root Sports’ Brad Adams about whether he was excited about the season beginning, Seager’s response was unambiguous and enthusiastically positive. As long as the changes lead to winning, the Mariners third baseman counted himself all in.
But this wasn’t just about sentiment and team-boosting, Seager wondered aloud what it would mean for him and his approach at the plate. He commented on his .328 on base percentage and and how his game may have to change to embrace the “Control the Zone” campaign to cut down on strikeouts and drive up walks.
I wonder if the “core” of the Mariners-Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Seager-are having similar internal dialogues, and how we might see their efforts to conform to a new strategy on the field. Fewer strikeouts, longer innings, fewer solo homers?
Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs, in his article projecting major league strikeout rates, suggests the Mariners should have one of the lowest strikeout rates in the majors.
“No team projects to trim its strikeout rate by more than the Mariners, who also happen to be under new management. That management has emphasized contact and controlling the zone, and the preference has been reflected in some of the moves — like, say, signing Nori Aoki, or bringing in Adam Lind. The Mariners also said goodbye to Austin Jackson, Mark Trumbo, and Brad Miller, and Mike Zunino will be working on major swing changes in Triple-A.”
Though changes will be measured by actual results, it’s clear the M’s have not only churned their roster, but the type of baseball they play will also be different. Kyle Seager won’t be the only one who notices.