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Steady Kyle Seager Wins The Race

Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager enjoyed a career year in 2014. What does the 27-year-old have in store for 2015?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Two years after putting up very good but not great fantasy numbers, third baseman Kyle Seager put it all together in 2014, slashing .268/.334/.454 and reaching career-highs in home runs (25) and RBIs (96) for the Seattle Mariners. He even chipped in seven steals and 71 runs in an improved Mariners lineup, notably with the addition of ex-Yankees superstar Robinson Cano filling in at second base.

In standard 5X5 leagues, Seager finished as the No. 6 first baseman after Anthony Rendon, Todd Frazier, Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson and Josh Harrison. He ranked ahead of established players such as Evan Longoria (No. 7), Pablo Sandoval (8), Carlos Santana (9), Matt Carpenter (10) and David Wright (18).

A career .262 hitter, Seager might have benefited from career-best luck in 2014 with a .296 BABIP (including a .353 BABIP in RBI spots), slightly above his career mark of .292. He overcame a really rough stretch in March and April with a .229 batting average, but followed it up with months of .272, .309 and .303. Since 2012, Seager's batting average has sat comfortably between .259 and .268. His strikeout rate increased for the third straight year (16.9 in 2012, 17.6 in 2013, and 18 in 2014), while his walk rate dipped from 9.8 percent to eight percent last season.

The biggest difference for Seager in 2014 came in terms of power. After back-to-back seasons with an ISO in the .160s, Seager's Isolated Power and HR/FB rate jumped to career-bests of .186 and 12.9 percent, respectively. Seager's minor-league track record doesn't suggest another big jump in power is coming, but another mid-20 home run season is well within reach, even playing half of his games at spacious Safeco. With an average fly ball distance right around 174 feet, however, expecting anything greater than last year's 25 dongs will probably leave you disappointed.

The addition of Cano last season helped Seager produce a career high 96 RBI. Even so, Seager reached 86 RBI two years before Cano arrived. This year, Seattle has added another RBI bat to the middle of its lineup, last year's home run champion, Nelson Cruz. While better talent is always a good thing, this will likely keep Seager in his normal role of a 5-hole hitter while Cruz bats cleanup. That takes away some of Seager's upside, in my opinion. He's still going to have plenty of RBI opportunities, however, and he batted fifth the majority of the time in 2014.

The Mariners signed Seager to a seven-year, $100 million contract extension in the offseason, and the steady Seager should continue to produce as a top-10 third basemen, with the upside of a top-five guy. I hesitate to say Seager, who the Fake Teams Staff ranked as its consensus No. 4 fantasy third baseman, with a high ranking of 3 and a low of 9, will perform better than his 2014 self, but the 27-year-old left-handed bat is in his prime years. Maybe he'll continue to jump in batting average for the fourth straight season, but in any case, Seager should continue to produce at a near-elite level.