For today’s positional preview we move back over to shortstop to finish the infield. That brings us to wonder kid Corey Seager. The rookie of the year enjoyed another star studded season but battled some injuries towards the end of the year. I think the increased playing time took its toll on the 23-year old all-star. Seager played in 159 games in 2016 and also logged 145 in 2017.
While Seager successfully avoided the dreaded sophomore slump, back and elbow problems slowed him down. The numbers seem to support this. In 2016 Seager slashed ./308/.365/.512 with 26 home runs and 193 hits. Seager’s numbers dipped slightly in 2017 as he slashed .295/.375/.479 with 22 home runs and 153 base knocks. I think the fact that he recorded 40 less hits in 2017 then he did in 2016 is a pretty telling stat.
Despite that Seager was still pretty awesome last year. He drove in 77 runs and posted an .854 OPS with a 125 OPS+ over 613 plate appearances. The numbers were good enough to register a 5.6 WAR and finish with another silver slugger award.
Seager batted .325 against left handers and posted an .889 OPS at Dodger Stadium. Seager also hit .361 (39 for 108) with runners in scoring position. Of his 77 runs driven in 53 of them were with runners in scoring position as he batted atop the lineup for most of the season. Seager was still so consistent he batted over .300 in every month of the season except for May and September. During the last month he was just (17 for 81) .210 over 91 plate appearances. You can contribute the late season slump to his injury problems.
Seager had a frustrating postseason as the Dodgers advanced to the World Series. Seager wasn’t a part of the NLCS roster. A back injury suffered while sliding into third base during the NLDS held him out of the five game series against the Cubs. During the NLDS Seager was 3 for 11 (.273) with one extra-base hit. He did return to the World Series but batted just .222 (6 for 27) with a home run, four runs driven in and 9 strikeouts.
Seager’s defense has always been better than average. He tallied 10 defensive runs saved and recorded a +9 total zone fielding runs above average. He committed just 11 errors over 520 chances as he usually makes most of the routine plays.
The problem at third base is the same at shortstop. There is limited to no depth behind Seager. If Seager were to be lost for any extended amount of time, the Dodgers would be in serious trouble. Again Enrique Hernandez can play some shortstop but that would be in an emergency. Chris Taylor can rack up some innings there as well but that wouldn’t be an ideal situation. Logan Forsythe has played 21 career games at shortstop. Beyond those guys there is nobody in the minors that can step in to play the position.
Fortunately Seager is young and strong. Despite the growing concern over his balky elbow he recovers quickly as most young players in their 20’s do. I suspect if Seager’s elbow/back is 100% he’ll notch another wonderful season with all-star type production. The Dodgers will need him to stay healthy through the entire season.