After joining the Los Angeles Dodgers for the final month of the regular season and playoffs in 2015, Corey Seager assumed a full-time role with the club last year. He entered the 2016 season rated the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball.
Seager shouldered the Dodgers offense while Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner were slow out of the gate, all the while playing steady defense at a premium position. The 22-year-old played his way to a unanimous National League Rookie of the Year selection, and finished third in NL MVP voting.
As it turns out, Seager accomplished as much without his best swing. “The scary thing about Corey is, in talking to him this winter, he never had his ‘A’ swing last year,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed on Wednesday.
“With the season he put forth last year, and not having his ‘A’ swing, that’s pretty exciting for us. To the sophomore slump, I don’t think that even comes into his thought process or ours. He’s going to prepare like he always has. He’s learning the league and they’re learning him. It’s that cat and mouse. There’s no reason we don’t see Corey continuing to get better.”
Seager provided a more detailed explanation of his feeling at the plate last season to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I thought I could be better at times mechanically than I was,” Seager confirmed Wednesday. “I wasn’t always 100 percent comfortable. Still competing, not uncomfortable, but not comfortable. I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be.”
The list of accolades Seager amassed last season are nothing short of astounding. He finished the season batting .308/.365/.512 with a 137 OPS+, .372 wOBA and 137 wRC+ over 157 games, which was the most he’s played at any level as a professional.
He led qualified Dodgers in batting average, on-base percentage, total hits (193), doubles (40), triples (five) and was second in home runs (26); and led qualified NL shortstops in doubles, home runs, batting average, slugging, wOBA, wRC+, was second in OBP and third in RBI.
Seager joined Fernando Valenzuela (1981) and Mike Piazza (1993) as the only Dodgers to win Rookie of the Year and a Silver Slugger Award in the same season. What’s more, the young shortstop set Los Angeles franchise single-season record for hits, and all-time franchise records in doubles and runs scored (105).
While Seager garnered plenty of attention and praise during and after his rookie season, the focus has remained on the Dodgers’ goal(s). Such was the case when he recently deflected attention from himself and echoed Clayton Kershaw’s remarks from August 2015 of the season being ‘World Series or bust.’