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Why the Dodgers Should Give Corey Seager Another Season at Shortstop

Since the 2019 season ended, much has been made about Corey Seager’s subpar, return-from-injury season. This has led fans and sports analysts to project him being traded for an upgrade at shortstop. Though options are available for an “upgrade”, the Dodgers should wait and give Seager another year to right the ship.

Seager’s History

Corey Seager was initially called up for the 2015 September roster expansions. In those 27 games he hit 4 home runs, 17 RBIs and slashed .337/.425/.561. The following season Seager became the everyday shortstop for the Dodgers. Picking up right where he left off in 2015, Seager hit 26 home runs, 72 RBIs while slashing .308/.365/.512. His impressive debut season earned him All-Star, Silver Slugger, and National League Rookie of the Year honors. Seager saw a slight regression in his 2017 season but was still solid, hitting 22 home runs and 77 RBIs while slashing .295/.375/.479. For the second consecutive year, he was an All-Star and Silver Slugger award winner.

In 2018, Corey Seager appeared in just 26 games. He hit .267 with 2 home runs and 13 RBIs before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He would miss the remainder of the season recovering.  Further adding to that recovery, Seager also had a late-season arthroscopic surgery on his left hip.    

Seager’s Return

In 2019, Corey Seager continued his extended recovery.  He did not play his first spring training game until March 20th, just 8 days before the Opening Day. After a slow first 7 games in which he bottomed out hitting .130/.286/.261, he managed to knock the rust off. On June 11th, Corey Seager strained his left hamstring in the 9th inning of a Freeway Series game against the Angels. The injury came at a time when Seager seemed to really be hitting his stride. In the 10 games prior to the injury, Seager had been on a tear. In those 43 plate appearances, he had been hitting .425/.465/.675 with 7 doubles, a home run, and 9 RBIs, raising his batting average from .245 to .278. 

After returning to action a month later, Seager’s batting average yo-yoed up and down. It bottomed out at .259 on September 12th. He then closed the regular season on another hot streak in which he went 19-48 (.396) with 5 doubles, 3 home runs, and 13 RBIs over his final 13 games. Ultimately Seager finished with a respectable .272/.335/.483 slash line to go with 44 doubles (tied most in the NL), 19 home runs, and 87 RBIs.

Free Agent/Trade Rumors

The Dodgers have made it known that they wish to add some right-handed power before the 2020 season. Free agent third basemen, Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson have been rumored targets along with a potential trade with the Cleveland Indians for shortstop, Francisco Lindor. If the Dodgers were to acquire one those third basemen, Justin Turner has already been vocal about his willingness to move to first.  If the Dodger’s were to acquire Lindor without moving Seager, there’s thought that he could shift to third and Turner to first. More likely however, is that Seager would be part of the package to acquire Lindor.

Seager > Lindor

Was Lindor better in 2019 than Seager? Absolutely. Enough to merit giving up on Seager? No.  Among the shortstops who record 500+ plate appearances, Corey Seager ranked 15th or better in most offensive categories even though he had less plate appearances than 20 others. This includes top-10 in 2Bs (2nd), RBIs (5th), and BB/K (10th). 

Most players do off-season work to keep their good swing habits and arms in shape. Seager wasn’t completely ready at the start of spring training, let alone able to work on his swing prior to that.  Given that information, Seager’s offensive production could’ve been better if he wasn’t actively trying to regain his swing during the regular season, only to have his progress disrupted by a midseason injury. In fact, all things considered, his offensive production is actually quite impressive.  Dodger fans saw a Seager that had two significant surgeries and hadn’t played in a game for nearly a year, put up very solid numbers.

Final Thoughts

Unless the Dodgers plan to acquire Lindor and KEEP Seager, they need to focus on one of those aforementioned third basemen for their right-handed power needs. Giving up Seager and prospects for Francisco Lindor, who’s estimated arbitration salary is also expected to be more than double what Seager’s expected, is not beneficial at this point in time. Not when Seager’s potential upside is too great. Despite his classic offensive production, Justin Turner has lost a step at the “hot corner”.  Third base needs to be the focus of the Dodgers especially when you have Jeter Downs coming down the pipeline to replace Seager if he can’t get back to his 2017 self.

Written by Jason McClure

Technically a Dodgers bandwagon fan. At 5 years old, I decided they were my favorite team after hearing they won the World Series on my mom’s car radio in 1988. My father (technically my stepfather) watered that seed, teaching me the game and introducing me to the beauty of Dodger Stadium. We got to know each other and bonded over games. Even when we couldn’t get along during my teenage years, we could come together over Vin Scully’s voice and a game. Dodger baseball is, and will always be, so much more than just a game.

34 Comments

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  1. Jason your argument makes a lot of sense, however it’s become obvious that the Dodgers need to do something different if they are going to win a WS title. Seager is one of the best trade pieces they have right now. And, in 131 post season plate appearances Seager has a .203 BA and around a .600 OPS. He’s injury prone, the lineup is left handed heavy, etc. Time to move on.

        • Playoffs are a trend though. Get rid of all choke artists on the team and keep and acquire those that produce in big moments and you instantly increase your chances

          • No, there are too many variables in each post season, and the period of observation is too short to determine if there is a valid statistical trend. Based on data to date, there is zero validity that Seager “is trending downward defensively” the comment to which I was replying

    • In my opinion the Dodgers would best served acquiring free agents rather than trades. To lost one high draft for quality is better than giving up Two to three class players all with high potential. One high draft choice who could turn out to be a dud does not replace 2-3 who have either performed well already j the Najors or who have tremendous upside

    • Lindor is a true leadoff, trading Seager for Lindor is a no brainer. Any fantasy owner knows that!!! I still like Turner over Rendon and Donaldson on third. We should go for pitching. The game is all about dominant pitchers. That simple. Our pitching is alright to win division titles but not to beat the AL. Joc P must go, he is a true liability. There are no WS dreams with burned out Kershaw, Jansen, Maeda and Hill. Ryu was a fluke. We can’t hold Butane starts. That’s the issue.

  2. Good stuff, but I would take it further. Sign Seager to an extension now – say 5 years, $100M. When Seager was healthy he was the superior offensive player (no doubt Lindor is the better defensive shortstop), and in 2019 (after Seager essentially missed the 2018 season) his wRC+ was 113 compared to Lindor’s 114 (Fangraphs). Trading Seager makes zero sense, unless the Dodgers already know that he intends to test free agency after 2021.

  3. All this buzz around Seager centers on his horrible showing in the NLCS last year (20 ABs.) Unfortunately, frustrated Dodger fans suffering from short-term memory are venting on him and MLB pundits are riding the wave.
    Seager played in 157 games in ’16 and 143 in ’17 before suffering an injury to his elbow that cost him the final month, basically the entire ’18 season, and delayed his start in ’19. Now fully recovered from TJ surgery, he played in a 134 games in ’19 while missing time mid-season for a hamstring injury. Hamstring injuries are by far the most common injuries in MLB and are most prevalent among infielders (Turner gets one every year.) The narrative that Seager is injury prone – as opposed to a single significant event from which he has recovered – is a myth.
    He is a MLB top 5 SS and a legitimate MVP candidate with 2 more years of team control. The idea that the Dodgers would peddle him – unless blown away by a deal – while his perceived value is low is ridiculous.

    • Couldn’t agree more.Seager isn’t the problem with the Dodgers folding in the playoffs,it’s a lack of a 2nd dominant starter like the Nationals,Astros have.The focus this year should be to sign Cole or Strausberg and if they can’t do that then go after the next best available along with a better closer!

      • Seager is not the problem! The pitching and the revolving door outfield is! Dodgers need a top-shelf starter in the rotation and for insurance during the Playoffs! Maybe 2020 will be the year that Dave Roberts figures out that he shouldn’t pitch Clayton Kershaw in the Playoffs! Unless the sky falls, the Dodgers will win the Division. How far they get in the Playoffs depends on pitching, pitching and waking up some very sleepy bats!

  4. Leave Seager at short sign Rendon move Turner to first Muncy to second most of you people give up on good players that have off years it’s going to happen to every good player he’s a smart ball player and will prove most of you wrong.

  5. Jason,
    You are 100% correct. Keep Corey Seager no matter what. DO NOT TRADE HIM FOR AN INFERIOR PERSON, even if there is a better player out there, which I doubt.

  6. I think all the talk of moving JT to 1B always skips a step. It moves Muncy to 2B, and takes Lux out of the picture. So the question is has JT lost so much at 3B, that it makes up for the loss of Lux. I don’t think so. Turner still passes the eye test at 3B. We won 106. Leave well enough alone.

      • I think that is a very viable option (flipping Munch and Turner). Not only has Turner’s defense slipped in last few seasons at third base, but playing frequently at first base should be easier on his knees. I also wonder if Turner has an injured throwing arm? His throws last season from third base lacked typical velocity and were often looping throws.

  7. I would be interested to see what kind of season he could have if him and his teammates would get off that anti-dairy kick. That group seems to have some trouble staying healthy and numbers seem down, it may just be my opinion but seems like something an occasional glass of milk might help.

  8. Losses are the coaches fault. Robert needs to communicate more to the players during the games when they are not performing.

  9. Of course as an offensive player Seager will always do well. But the casual fan and writer does not get the value of a top defensive player like Lindor. Lindor also adds a perfect leadoff hitter, with speed and right handed bat as well. Seager can’t steal bases, can’t lead off, can’t provide a very necessary right handed bat to the lineup and can’t give the Dodgers top level defense, Seager ranks low to almost below average. Seager will bat well but Lindor helps solve 4 important holes the Dodgers have. Pederson is a horrible leadoff hitter and defensively just ok. We sacrifice defense with Muncy but his hitting is too good to leave out of the lineup. Give the Indians Pederson and Seager plus a mid level Minor leaguer. We need rom for guys like Verdugo and maybe a Rios next season Pederson is a big time waste anyhow.

    • What are you talking about. Seager is still rated an above average defensive shortstop, and prior to his surgeries was well above average. Speed for stealing bases means nothing to the Dodgers who don’t steal bases. Your suggested trade (Pederson, Seager, and a mid level minor leaguer is a huge overpay that would be a large net reduction in Dodgers offense. Forget moving players around that do not improve the team. Keep Seager, extend him, and use your trade resources to improve in other areas. Seager is not the problem with this roster.

  10. I’m going to preface this by saying that I love Seager and I hope he’s a Dodger for years to come. But there’s 2 things that simply can not be ignored anymore when it comes to him.
    Number 1, he’s injury prone. I keep seeing people saying he will just get better another year removed from his surgery. That may be true, but he won’t stay on the field. He never has in his career so far. Also I see people saying he sucked this October because he wasn’t fully back. So was he not fully back in September when he was crushing the ball? And that leads me to number 2, he has been HORRIFIC in the postseason. I saw somebody else say people are just remembering his awful NLCS last year, which he didn’t even play in lol, and he didn’t play in the 2017 NLCS either so not sure what that guys been watching. But no we remember literally every single postseason series he’s ever played. He’s been awful in every single one. At some point the front office has to do something different. We have too many guys who don’t show up when the lights are the brightest, Seager being one of the main culprits. I love the kid and like I said earlier, I hope he stays healthy, keeps getting better and stays a Dodger forever. And this isn’t meant to be an attack on him either, he does A LOT of really good things and I enjoy watching him play. But if you give me the chance to get Lindor over Seager, I’ll do that every damn day.

    • Just checking in to say that I love Seager – still think he has some greatness in him – but the shine has worn off a bit for me too. I am just not excited about a guy placing at least in the top 15 among all shorstops. To me, that’s just reason to look for an upgrade. Give me the guys who are lining the leaderboard. Again, I love Seager. But he’s feeling pretty ordinary to me for quite some time. Luckily he’s still young.

      • Great article. Yep, trading Seager would be a HUGE mistake. Lindor is better defensively; but not by much. Seager had a 1.4 defensive WAR last season. That is probably top 5 NL. Lindor had 1.7. You add in Corey’s injury recovery time, and both would have been even. Not to mention Corey’s DL hamstring. Then you look at the things off to the side. Cleveland wants a top prospect, too. They want Lux, May, Downs, Gray. One of those guys. Nope not in our interest. Stay the course. Extend Seager. Two All Stars. Two Silver Sluggers. Three for each is probably on the way.

      • You need to do more research and not rely on Seager’s first season back from two major surgeries. “I love Seager…but he is feeling pretty ordinary” — hogwash! If you loved him you would take the time to research his entire career.

    • Your comment that Seager has never stayed on the field in his career is erroneous. 2016 – 157 games played, 687 plate appearances; 2017 – 145 games played, 613 plate appearances; 2018 – injured; 2019 134 games played, 541 plate appearances (He was on the IL for several weeks with a hamstring pull). Those are not stats of an “injury prone” player. If that is what you are looking for then take a look at AJ Pollock’s numbers. “…literally every single postseason series he’s ever played. He’s been awful in every single one.” 2016 NLCS: .286 / .375 / .286 is not great, but it isn’t awful. 2017 NLDS .273 / .467 / .455 is far from awful. Too bad facts get in the way of your argument. Love to have Lindor and Seager, but who are you going to give up for Lindor? Rumors that it would take Lux, Ruiz, and Verdugo — do you make that deal?

    • It was me that said NLCS last year instead of NLDS – my bad. That’s what I was watching and he was admittedly horrible – for 17 ABs. SoCalBum already corrected you about him staying on the field so I’ll leave it at that.
      Everyone would take Lindor over Seager because he’s a switch hitter and better defensively with only modest drop off offensively. That doesn’t mean you gotta have him or that you dump Seager for a bag of balls like many are now suggesting. What the Dodgers really need is another front line hard throwing starter and for Roberts to smarten up.

  11. I like Seager as well and would like to keep him but looks like we already have too many fielders who are injury prone on this team, like Pollack, Turner and possibly Verdugo, depending on how his back injury works out. In my opinion trade pollack if possible. Even if you have to pay some of his horrible contract.. Move him. Then we can keep Pederson who seems to not get injured, and is young. A Pederson, Verdugo Bellinger outfield would suit me just fine with CT and Kike backing up… Anyways we need guys less prone to injury to stay. I hope Friedman doesn’t acquire another one of these dudes this year. We got one too many already!!…

  12. First Lindor is not a better hitter, than Corey,never will be.put him in Dodger stadium and his numbers will drop below Seager’s numbers.Corey’s best years are ahead of him.Real dodger fans would keep our players that came from our minor leagues like Corey and Joc bandwagon fans Don’t care.

  13. Corey looked frail last year. He needs to get stronger this off season. Let’s see what he can do with a full off season of workouts. I think he comes back with a huge year next season. No way I would trade him when his stock is down

  14. Great article. Keeping Seager is a no brainier to me. Young. All star when not rehabbing from Tommy John…surely we can give him a year for that? Everyone else gets one.

  15. IMO the Dodgers have No choice but to Keep Corey Seager. If it is true the Dodgers are going after Lindor, the Indians want Gavin Lux to start with Not Seager. The Indians view Seager as damaged goods

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