In 2012, a streak was broken. The Los Angeles Dodgers had used their top pick on a pitcher in every draft since 2003. But this time, Logan White and company decided to buck the trend and take a lanky infielder from North Carolina. The question wasn’t why they selected Corey Seager. It was how he lasted until the 18th pick.
Year by year, Seager moved up the organizational ladder, leaving behind pitchers rejoicing that they wouldn’t have to face him anymore. After struggling at the end of the 2013 season, Seager assuaged any concerns by hitting .349/.402/.602 with 50 doubles and 20 home runs the following year.
By 2015, he’d reached the top of the Minors at the ripe old age of 21 and was making his case for a Major League call-up. And finally, it happened. On Sept. 3, 2015, Seager made his MLB debut.
Batting eighth and playing shortstop, he struck out looking in his first at-bat. But he’d collect his first hit, a double, in his next at bat.
While expectations were high, Seager somehow exceeded them. In his first month of big league action, the young shortstop batted .337/.425/.561 with eight doubles and four home runs.
He’d go on to start in the playoffs, batting third in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the New York Mets, but Seager managed just three hits in 16 postseason at-bats.
Heading into 2016 much was expected from the top prospect in baseball. On a team with a $250 million payroll, the 22-year-old rookie was expected to lead the offense. And he did.
After a slow start, Seager quickly turned things around by batting .297/.357/.521 in the first half, earning an All-Star selection. Seager hit even better in the second half, before he tired in September and his production fell off.
He hit a home run off Max Scherzer in his first at-bat of the postseason, and homered in his first at-bat in Game 2, but his production continued to wane and he hit only .150 in the NLDS, and posted just a .661 on-base plus slugging in the NL Championship Series.
But, while the postseason ended in disappointing fashion, the offseason began on a high note. Seager became the first Dodger in 20 years to win the NL Rookie of the Year. On top of that, he was a unanimous selection.
Seager also took home a Silver Slugger Award and finished third in MVP voting.
While Seager had many memorable moments, one that sticks out came on a special day. During the last game of the Dodgers’ final homestand, Vin Scully was calling his last game at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers headed into the ninth inning trailing by one, looking for a win to clinch their fourth straight NL West title.
Down to their final out, Seager came to the plate. After getting ahead in the count, 2-0, Adam Ottavino left a cutter over the middle of the plate and Seager crushed it out to right field to tie the game.
That would set up one of the most unlikely moments of the season, when Charlie Culberson ended the game with a walk-off home run.
Seager obviously should be a fixture in the Dodgers’ lineup for several years to come. The club hasn’t given any indication they will move him off shortstop next season, so expect Seager to continue growing in every facet of the game.