First of all, shortstop isn’t that hard. It isn’t. You play deep enough so you can field every grounder hit your way, you scoop up said grounder, and then you throw the ball to first. Occasionally, you’ll have to cover second or third. Every now and then, you’ll take a relay throw. In between, you’ll stand around, kick the dirt, spit, smack the palm of your glove, hold one or two fingers above your head, chatter, and just generally try to look good out there for all the people watching. Don’t put the position on a pedestal. It’s not that freakin’ hard.
Baseball as a whole isn’t that hard. Sorry, but it isn’t. Scouts and old guys who follow the game will have you believe otherwise, but that’s mostly because they’re fat asses who couldn’t field a turtle. Plus, they want their opinions and numbers to mean something. So if they portray baseball as this difficult endeavor, maybe you’ll listen to what they have to say every time they open their mouths. Whatever.
Fact is, you don’t have to be a world-class athlete to play baseball. I know this. I’ve played baseball my whole life and no one has ever said to me, “Hey, look at you! I bet you could win an Olympic medal if you wanted to.” No. No one has ever said that. If I can do it, anyone can.
With all that said, there seems to be a firm belief in the baseball world that a guy like Kyle Seager, he of Seattle Mariners fame, cannot play a position like shortstop. I’d like to question why the f**k that is.
Seager is 5’10”, 175 pounds. He’s built like your classic shortstop. Experts, however, say he’s more suited for second or third base. He lacks the range and the arm to play shortstop, they say, despite the fact that second requires one to cover the same area as shortstop, while third requires the same arm strength as shortstop. Look it up. The dimensions of a major league infield are the same all over. We’re not dealing with an oblong diamond here.
I’d question why insiders seem to hate simple mathematics (basic geometry) yet adore arithmetic of their own creation (sabermetrics), but that would be straying too far from our point.
The point is, there’s no doubt in my mind that Kyle Seager could very well be the Mariners’ shortstop of the future.
Seager is in a tough spot right now, however. He’s blocked at second base thanks to his former college teammate, Dustin Ackley. Third base could be his primary position, and it is for now, but Seager lacks the pop of a corner infielder. On an offensively-challenged ballclub like this one, it helps to get power from all available positions. Third base is one of those positions where power can be easily obtained, where a glove can be sacrificed for a big bat. With all due respect to the 23-year-old infielder, Seager isn’t the big bat this team needs.
But he does happen to be a line drive hitting machine who deposits souvenirs beyond the outfield wall from time to time. It’s not as if we’re talking about a liability at the plate here. In fact, it’s Seager’s bat that even warrants this discussion in the first place. If the left-handed-hitting North Carolina native can continue his production at the dish (he’s batting .405 over his last 10 games), the organization will be forced to get creative in how they use the rookie in ensuing years.
Yes, many pundits seem resigned to the fact that Seager will get traded away by the team somewhere down the road. But if he can prove capable at the big-league level, that could prove a costly mistake.
The Mariners have been all too apt to deal young talent over the course of the past decade. Their incumbent at the six-hole, Brendan Ryan, will be 30 on Opening Day next year. He’s a career .259 hitter. He seems like a great dude and all, but he is what he is, and it’s nothing spectacular.
There are other shortstops throughout the minor league system — Nick Franklin (currently in Double-A), Brad Miller (selected in the third round of the 2011 June Amateur Draft), and Carlos Triunfel (currently at Triple-A Tacoma, though there’s no guarantee he’s actually real), to name three — but the reality is that none of these guys are in the bigs right this moment. Seager is. And he’s proving he can play.
Why not take a chance on the guy? Really, when it comes down to it, what do you have to lose?
It’s time to find out what we have in the young players that comprise the Mariners’ roster. You can start by putting Kyle Seager at shortstop. It isn’t that hard.