Corey Seager Making Comeback POY Case

Corey Seager

In his age 26 season, Los Angeles Dodgers’ shortstop Corey Seager is putting together a terrific comeback season. Seager is among the National League’s top 10 in batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, and RBIs. He has solidified himself in the number-two hole of the Dodgers’ potent lineup.

Highs and Lows of a Young Career

Seager shot onto the scene late in 2015, hitting .337 with four home runs as a September call-up. He secured his big-league status in 2016, having a breakout season in which he was selected as an All-Star, won Rookie of the Year honors, and finished third in MVP voting. He repeated as an All-Star in 2017, putting up similar numbers and leading the Dodgers to 104 wins.

Seager’s physical durability came into question in the 2017 postseason, when he missed the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs with a back injury. Despite this obstacle, he returned to the team for the World Series and played all seven games.

Early on in the 2018 season, however, Seager felt pain in his throwing arm. Upon further evaluation, he was diagnosed with a UCL sprain, causing him to miss the rest of the season for Tommy John surgery. During this time he also underwent hip surgery.

Coming off two surgeries, Seager’s 2019 campaign started slowly and then paused in June with a hamstring injury. Despite the missed time, he set a career-high in doubles with 44. While showing flashes of his everyday potential, Seager never fully regained the elite form of the beginning of his career.

Back on Track

Despite the unprecedented conditions of the 2020 season, Corey Seager has made huge strides in reestablishing himself as a premier infielder. He’s hitting .325/.377/.609, good for an OPS of .986 which is sixth in the National League. If not for the shortened season, he probably would have been selected to his third All-Star Game.

Seager’s power numbers are very impressive as well. His 14 home runs would be well on pace to top his career-high of 26 as a rookie. His home runs per plate appearance percentage is 6.6%, more than double his career average.

Furthermore, Seager continues to be one of the most aggressive hitters in baseball. His 48.8% first-pitch swinging percentage is the fourth-highest in baseball, resulting in a first-pitch batting average of .324. His aggressive style blends nicely with the otherwise patient Dodgers lineup, which has drawn the fourth-most walks in the NL this year.

Health is Key

Corey Seager attributes much of his success this comeback season to being fully strong and healthy for the first time in a while. “Last year especially, I just wasn’t physically as strong as I would like to have been,” he said. “Just being strong again and being healthy again has definitely helped that.”

His health has transferred seamlessly into production. Perhaps the most reassuring stat is his barrel percentage, which, according to Statcast, leads all of baseball at 12.8%. A healthy Seager, along with the addition of MVP candidate Mookie Betts, has given the Dodgers a lethal 1-2 punch at the top of the order. Betts and Seager have accounted for roughly 30% of the Dodgers’ runs created, helping offset the frequent slumps of Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy.

“He’s playing like an MVP,” manager Dave Roberts said of Seager. “Defensively, offensively — I think he’s in the top three as far as the quality of contact, how hard the ball comes off his bat. He’s a doubles machine. Really excited he’s healthy.”

Seager should be at the forefront of the National League Comeback Player of the Year conversation. Other candidates may include Marcell Ozuna, Wil Myers, Didi Gregorius, and fellow Dodger AJ Pollock. A healthy and rejuvenated Seager figures to play a prominent role if the Dodgers were to make a deep postseason run.

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