Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Home is not a good place for Kyle Seager

If Kyle Seager of the Seattle Mariners could play all of his games on the road, he would be a beast. But since he plays half of his games in Safeco Field, he is merely a very good player and one of the young bright spots on his team. Most players prefer to play at home. Most players feel more comfortable at a place they play half of their games. But for Kyle Seager, home is a miserable place that could ultimately cost him money.

To give you an idea of how different a hitter Kyle Seager is at home, you only need to look at his splits and wOBA. If Seager played all of his games on the road, his wOBA of .389 while on the road would place him in a tie for eleventh place among all Major League batters. Instead, his overall wOBA of .352 puts him in 45th place. It is still a productive number and puts him alongside guys like Torii Hunter, Jonathan Lucroy and Colby Rasmus. He really seems to be a better hitter than all three of those guys.

But his wOBA at home is .316. That is quite the split. His isolated power or ISO is even more dramatic. At home, that number for him is .136. On the road, his ISO is .237. That is more than a hundred point difference. In the voice of Inspector Gadget, wowzers.

Many times, such splits are one year flukes. But that is not the case with Seager. Last year, his ISO at home was .102 while it was .219 on the road. Last year, his wOBA was .284 at home and .357 on the road. Now in his third season with the Mariners, Kyle Seager has an ISO of .113 at home and .216 on the road. His career wOBA at home is .291 and .370 on the road. Remarkable.

Just to break it down into simpler numbers, here are his career numbers on the road and at home in several categories:
  • Doubles:  44, 32
  • BABIP:  .318 road, .271 home
  • Homers:  31, 12
  • Walks:  60, 48
  • Hits:  193, 145
This year, of his twenty homers, seven have been hit at home. His OBP at home is .371 compared to .322 at home. His slugging percentage is .527 on the road and .397 at home. That is a 130 point swing!

The last time I can remember a swing this different and against a player at home was Adrian Gonzalez in his years with the Padres. For example, A-Gone's OPS at home in 2008 was .788 and was .946 on the road.

Seager's struggles at home and the large disparity in splits do not carry through for the Mariners team as a whole. The Mariners as a whole have a split of a .695 OPS at home compared to a .711 OPS on the road. Yes, there is some better success on the road than at home, but not on the level of Seager's.

Seager seems to share his struggles with fellow lefty-swinging Michael Saunders whose OPS is 119 points better on the road than at home. But another lefty swinger, Raul Ibanez is better at home and Dustin Ackley is just about the same.

Kyle Seager is an optimistic part of the Seattle Mariners' future. He is a very good player and has become a fan favorite. But unless he can adjust and hit at Safeco (where he plays half of his games), then that will keep him from becoming a superstar.

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