At 22 years old Los Angeles Dodgers rookie shortstop became the youngest position player in franchise history selected to the All-Star Game. Seager is joined on the National League roster by teammates Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw.
Although Kershaw was elected to the All-Star Game and will travel to Petco Park in San Diego, a back injury prevents him from pitching in his sixth Midsummer Classic. Meanwhile, Seager added on to his first All-Star Game experience as he’s also slated to participate in the Home Run Derby.
“It’s for the fans. I think if Corey wants to participate and hit a bunch of homers then we’ll root for him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said in support of his young shortstop.
With the bracket format still in place, Seager, as the No. 8 and final seed, faces Baltimore Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo in the first round. Trumbo leads the Majors this season with 26 home runs.
“I think he’s going to be nervous. There are some guys who get shut out and as I understand it, there’s a little bit of pressure,” Roberts added. “You’re kind of a man on an island.” While Seager leads the Dodgers with 17 home runs, he’s far from a prototypical slugger.
That may affect how successful he is at the Derby, in Roberts’ estimation. “Corey’s swing is his swing. One little bit of thought is when you liken it to the three-point shooting contest and we all watched Larry Bird, where it was low effort as opposed to someone who has to shoot a jumper and expend more energy,” the rookie manager said.
“Corey is the lower half and there’s a lot of energy expended to hit a homer. You can look at (Robinson) Cano or (Josh) Hamilton, where it’s a flick of the wrist to conserve energy. I do believe regardless of the result, he’ll continue to get hits for us.”
Like Roberts, Seager also dismissed any concern over the belief participating in the Home Run Derby changes a player’s swing for the worse. Joc Pederson is the example that may stick out in the minds of Dodger fans, but he began to struggle at the plate in the weeks prior to the All-Star break.
Pederson lost in the final round to Todd Frazier in last year’s Derby at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Coverage of the 2016 Home Run Derby begins Monday at 5 p.m. PT on ESPN.