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Watching the Mariners’ game last night, you might have had a feeling of deja vu in the fourth inning, when Kyle Seager made a very heady play to seemingly help Felix Hernandez out of a jam.
The game was tied 2-2, one out, Rajai Davis on second. Jeff Mathis dropped a bunt down the third-base line. Seager charged, pump-faked to first, whirled and caught Davis, who had rounded the bag, off third base. Credit Seager with the presence of mind to think of that tactic, and credit shortstop Brendan Ryan for having the presence of mind to be at the bag for the throw.
And, perhaps, credit rookie Manny Machado of the Orioles for unveiling that very play the night before. You can see the video above. I’ve got to think that Seager watched the highlight, which was all over ESPN and MLB Network, of Machado nailing pinch-runner Rich Thompson off third after fielding Evan Longoria’s slow roller. The fact that the game was tied, 2-2, with two outs in the ninth, and both teams are fighting for a playoff berth, gave Machado’s play a much higher profile than Seager’s, which occurred in a game between two teams going nowhere this season.
It turned out that Seager’s play only delayed the undoing of Hernandez, who proceeded to give up a double, two-run single, walk, and three-run homer as the inning unfolded. But the Mariners got a great highlight out of it, at least. It’s worth noting what a fine year Seager is having, emerging as the most successful of the young players under scrutiny this year by the Mariners. The only third basemen in the American League who have driven in more runs than Seager’s 81 are Miguel Cabrera (118) and Adrian Beltre (92) — two MVP candidates. He’s just the fourth player in Mariners history with 80 or more RBIs in either of his first two seasons in the big leagues. The others are Alvin Davis (116 in 1984 as a rookie), Jim Presley (84 in 1985, his second year) and Ken Griffey Jr. (80 in 1990, his second year). And since 2008, Seager is one of four American League players with 80-plus RBIs in the first first two years of a career. The others are Mark Trumbo (2011), Evan Longoria (2008-09) and Josh Hamilton (2008)
As for Machado, he’s a player to keep an eye on. With all the (deserved) hoopla surrounding Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, the 20-year-old Machado, thrust into the middle of a pennant race at a new position — and holding his own — has the makings of a future star.