For better or worse, much of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster from last season is set to return this year. The most obvious difference is at shortstop, where there’s a changing of the guard without restraints as Corey Seager takes over for free-agent Jimmy Rollins.
Seager was promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City once active rosters expanded last September, and he played himself into a starting role with Rollins battling a sprained right index finger.
While the young shortstop continued to have his name written in the everyday lineup, former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly largely refrained from publicly admitting Seager unseated Rollins.
Now Seager, who will turn 22 years old on April 27, is set to play under a spotlight brighter than what was on him last season.
The notoriety isn’t reason to celebrate just yet, teammate Adrian Gonzalez said when asked about Seager’s rankings. “I could care less about who’s No. 1. It’s about how you perform when you get to the big leagues,” Gonzalez, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 draft, stated matter-of-factly.
“What somebody projects is all just personal opinion. It’s really about what they do when they get there. I’ve seen plenty of Nos. 1 bust, and plenty of them do great. The number they put behind a person is irrelevant to how they perform once they get here.”
However, Gonzalez certainly believes Seager has the capability to live up to the billing, which he relayed to Colorado Rockies first base coach last year. “We were talking about prospects [the Rockies] had and prospects we had, and I told him, ‘[Seager] is a special kid and someone I could see being a Hall of Famer in the future,'” Gonzalez said.
“This was before anybody put [Seager] as the No. 1 prospect. He has the talent, makeup and potential, so I think he’s going to be a great Major Leaguer for a long time.”
Seager hit .337/.425/.561 with four home runs, eight doubles, 17 RBIs, a .421 wOBA and 175 wRC+ in 27 regular-season games with the Dodgers, demonstrating remarkable poise at the plate along the way.
He became the youngest position player to start a postseason game in franchise history when he was penciled in the lineup for Game 1 against the New York Mets in the 2015 National League Division Series.