No, this isn’t a post about Corey Seager and his projected move to third base. He is the Dodgers’ starting shortstop, and should be for the foreseeable future. With that comes some lofty projections.
That’ll happen after he hit .337/.425/.561 in his first 113 plate appearances. He might be the rare player who does better in the major leagues than he did in the minor leagues, statistically.
Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projection system has Seager slated to hit .266/.311/.447 with 20 home runs, a 111 OPS+ and a team-best (offensively) 3.9 wins above replacement. While the on-base percentage seems a bit low, he more than makes up for it with the power. Steamer isn’t as bullish on Seager, giving him a .265/.315/.423, 17 home runs, 105 wRC+ and a 2.9 WAR (third-best) — which is still damn good for a 22-year-old. It remains to be seen if he hits these projections — or exceeds them — but the expectation of greatness is almost here for Seager.
He’s the best position player prospect the Dodgers have developed since Matt Kemp. Before that, Adrian Beltre and Mike Piazza (some could say Paul Konerko, but he did all his damage elsewhere). Yet, there’s a different feeling around Seager. He has the intangible “it” that is always talked about. He isn’t going to be a vocal leader-type, but with some of the veteran players entering the twilight of their careers, someone is going to have to take the leadership mantle from the likes of Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner (this obviously doesn’t include Clayton Kershaw, because this is absolutely his team). I could easily see Seager being the undisputed leader of the Dodgers in the next 2-3 years.
The crop of young shortstops around baseball rivals (or might be even better than) the ones in the late-90s: Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter, Edgar Renteria, Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada. Guys like Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell and Seager could very well rival that quintet. While Seager isn’t the purest or clearly most-talented of the bunch, he could produce the most steady MLB career.
Some have thrown Matt Carpenter comps on Seager. That’s a good one, statistically. Some have also thrown Jeter comps on him. That would be a good one, statistically, and a great one, intangibly. I realize he might not ever reach those levels of stardom. But I’ve followed a lot of Dodger prospects for many years, and I cannot recall a position player prospect in the system with the entire package like Seager does (Russell Martin may have been the closest). I’m trying to temper my excitement and own expectations, but I see greatness in Seager’s future.
Expectations are high for Seager, and I’m reasonably confident he’ll handle that pressure well. Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig haven’t just yet, which means the road is paved for Seager to grab hold of the Dodgers and make them his team sooner rather than later.