There are many question marks heading into 2019, and two of the biggest are the health of both Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw. In a recent poll on our Twitter account, Dodgers Nation asked fans whether a 100% Seager or a 100% Kershaw is more important right now.
In your opinion: more important to have a 100% Seager, or 100% Kershaw?
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) March 4, 2019
The masses have spoken and it is Seager all the way. And the masses are 100% correct. The success of the 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers is contingent on his return to form.
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Now, before any pitchforks or talks of Kershaw slander are whipped out, let me be clear: it’s important that BOTH players are fully healthy. If it were to come down to either or, however, it has to be Seager for many reasons. To start, losing him last year contributed to the team’s offensive underperformance, and left a void in the lineup that wasn’t filled until Manny Machado was acquired in July.
Moreover, a healthy Seager means more lineup stability day to day. Some fans foolishly labeled the 2018 team’s constant platooning a weakness, when if anything it was the bare minimum to keep their playoff hopes alive at all. That said, they could benefit from having more guys they can pencil in every day in 2019, ideally Turner, Bellinger, Muncy, and Seager. It would make for greater consistency, among other things.
Another reason Seager is ultimately more important this season is the lack of big additions to the lineup in the offseason. Look, I’m as tired of the Bryce Harper saga as anyone. While my feelings are better off addressed in another post, I do think it might have been wise to pass up on him if he was dead set on a 13-year contract. Regardless, it can’t be denied that passing on him (even if it might have been for the best in the long run) is a missed opportunity. With Seager’s return, we can at least welcome back an MVP-level bat in lieu of adding another.
Furthermore, the temporary addition of Machado last year, while enough to secure another pennant, made us miss Seager even more with his diva antics. Corey provides not only an elite bat, but an unpretentious and fiery attitude that makes for good leadership. Unlike San Diego’s newest acquisition, he is Johnny Hustle.
On the other hand, while Kershaw is always missed during his injured list stints, the team has the rotational depth to compensate for his absence. This was demonstrated last year when Walker Buehler’s emergence and Ross Stripling’s surprise All-Star campaign kept the rotation solvent for a good spell. This year, the thought of a Kershaw-less rotation is even more tolerable with a rejuvenated Julio Urias throwing 98 MPH heat in Spring Training.
Right now, the Dodgers have enough starting pitching to survive without Kershaw for a time. But they cannot afford to make up for Seager’s absence a second year in a row. Especially after a season where they failed to hit in the clutch at a historic rate, and were downright lethargic all throughout it, Los Angeles needs its home run-screaming shortstop more than ever.