Kyle Seager is putting himself among some elite company with his bat this season. Seager is hitting .289/.353/.487 with 16 home runs and 46 RBIs, which is a drastic improvement from his solid but unspectacular 2012 campaign. However it’s not his triple slash line that has me so impressed with Seager right now—it’s his streaks and consistency.
Only three players have managed to put together three 10-game hitting streaks in 2013: Kyle Seager, Miguel Cabrera, and Jacoby Ellsbury. More impressively, Seager has done something the other two have not done this year; he has had two hit streaks of 15 or more games. Seager has been worth 3.7 fWAR, putting him easily in the top 20 offensive players in the MLB. Seager’s 16-game hitting streak from earlier this season is the fourth longest in the American League in 2013.
How rare is two 15-game hitting streaks in one season by the same player? Pretty rare actually. From 2010 to 2012, only four players have had multiple hit streaks of 15 games or more: Angel Pagan, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence, and Josh Willingham. Of those four guys, three saw huge spikes in their batting averages on balls in play (BABIP) which, to the savvy baseball fan, indicates a lot of good luck. League average BABIP is .297 over the last 4 years and most good hitters can only sustain a BABIP around .300-.315 without being overly lucky. During the season where Pagan, Ellsbury, and Pence had their two 15-game hitting streaks, they averaged a .342 BABIP, well above their collective career average of .319. This season, Seager’s BABIP is a perfectly normal .309, indicating that luck has not been a factor in his impressive hitting.
Of course a 15-game hitting streak is nothing too special or earth shattering; the all-time record is an impressive 56 games by the legendary Joe DiMaggio in 1941. However, the list of players who haven’t had a hit streak of at least 15 games is large. Among players who have been more valuable than Seager (according to WAR), only three have had a 15-game hit streak: Matt Carpenter, Joe Mauer and the greatest hitter alive, Miguel Cabrera. In 2013, 15-game hitting streaks have been fairly rare; Buster Posey hasn’t done it, Yadier Molina hasn’t done it, Mike Trout hasn’t done it, Andrew McCutchen hasn’t done it, even Dustin Pedroia hasn’t done it.
Seager has picked up at least one hit in 72 of the Mariners’ 96 games, and he has collected two or more hits in 26 games. Getting at least one hit in 75% of your teams games sounds pretty consistent to me. Seager, despite his large number of streaks, has been remarkably consistent. His BABIP tells me that right now we are seeing him hit like he can for the next 10 years barring major injury or major changes. Seager will be the best hitter for the Mariners for the foreseeable future, and if he gets any better he will likely be one of the 10 best hitters in the American League. Pretty good for a 3rd round draft pick.