Although the North Carolina baseball team faced some adversity in the last two seasons in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, several former players have found success at the next level.
The number of Tar Heels in the MLB is abundant, but two players in particular stand above the rest. Here is a look at how they helped their respective ball clubs this year.
Seager spent two seasons with the Tar Heels from 2008 to 2009 and quickly gained recognition for his hitting ability, as he set the single-season school record for doubles in his sophomore season. These skills led to him being selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 2009 MLB Draft, where he has been a staple at third base ever since.
Since making his MLB debut with the Mariners in 2011, Seager has played in 1,480 games, hitting 242 home runs and 807 RBIs. His best season came in 2016, when he registered an impressive .859 OPS, hit 30 home runs and finished 12th in the AL MVP voting.
This season, Seager led the upstart Mariners with 101 RBIs and finished second on the team with 35 home runs. His contributions helped the team conclude the season with a 90-72 record, marking Seattle’s best campaign since 2003.
Seager and the Mariners were playing meaningful baseball all year, and the team was vying for one of the two AL wild card spots on the final day of the season. The grit of the Mariners captured the attention of many, as the team hadn’t made the postseason since 2001, which is the longest active drought for any North American professional sports team.
Once it was clear the Mariners would fall short of their postseason aspirations, Seager was removed from the game in the ninth inning, allowing the crowd to give him an emotional two-minute standing ovation.
As a pending free agent this offseason, Seager’s future as a Mariner is in question, but the impact he made during his 11-year stint is undeniable.