The Dodgers can be a polarizing team. They spend a lot of money, play in one of the flashiest cities in America, have a star-studded fan-base, and are perennial contenders and favorites to win the World Series. All of those things put a target on the Dodgers’ back year-in-and-year-out.
Despite their free-spending roster construction, it was home-grown Corey Seager who dominated in the playoffs, and earned both NLCS and World Series MVP honors, well-deserved accolades for a player who personifies how many things LA gets right with regards to their roster construction.
Seager has been a star since he came into the league. He earned the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2016 by demonstrating power via 26 home runs and 40 doubles, average, with a .308 average and .365 OBP, and he amassed nearly 200 hits for a 134 OPS+. Combined with excellent defense, Seager is the real-deal at shortstop, and was clearly going to serve as a key to LA’s core for the foreseeable future.
In just a little over five full seasons (including a COVID-shortened 2020), Seager has totaled over 600 hits, including leading the NL in doubles in 2019. His postseason performance in the COVID-lengthened 2020 playoffs kept him on the trajectory towards stardom, though many people would already have put him in that category entering the postseason.
Coming into 2020, Seager had already played in 31 playoff games, though he struggled mightily in the postseason previously. He was striking out at a huge clip, K’ing in 41 of his 131 postseason plate appearances. His meager .203/.275/.331 slash line looked nothing like his regular season numbers. Then 2020 happened and everything changed.
In 19 games this postseason, Seager posted 12 extra base hits including eight home runs. He struck out only 12 times in 80 plate appearances (a 15 percent strikeout rate, much more aligned with his regular season numbers), and seemed to be on-base all-the-damn-time, with a remarkable .425 OBP.
Seager’s five home runs in the NLCS propelled LA to a series win despite being down 3-1 to Atlanta. Seager ended up driving in 11 runs of the Dodgers 29 series runs. He won MVP honors in the NLCS.
Remarkably, his numbers improved in the World Series!
In the six games of this year’s Fall Classic, Seager posted a .400/.556/.700 slash line, amassing eight hits and six walks in just six games. It seemed like Seager was always on base this World Series, in large-part, because he was getting on base more often than he was making outs. He was a pivotal cog to a Dodgers’ offensive juggernaut that just never stops.
Seager has been a Dodger his entire career, having been drafted by Los Angeles with the 18th pick in the 2012 draft. He worked his way through the Dodgers’ minor league system, before his cup-of-coffee September call-up in 2015. Since then, he’s been a pivotal part of the lineup.
He just finished his second arb-eligible season, and at $7.6 million (whcih wasn’t even that, due to the prorated contracts in a shortened-season), was a steal this year, especially for a team that seemingly has unlimited financial resources.
It’s highly likely that LA locks up Seager to be a Dodger for a long time, especially considering his youth (he’s only 26 years old despite being a staple in LA for five years). His playoff breakout and World Series MVP honors only furthers the case that LA should sign him to a multi-year contract.
Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano