Going Deep: Remember Corey Seager?
The whole offseason headed into 2019, I felt like Corey Seager was a forgotten man. After a UCL sprain and ensuing Tommy John surgery caused the Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop to play in only 26 games in 2018, the 25-year-old simply didn’t seem to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the other young, exciting shortstops in the league. Even after two seasons in which Seager received MVP votes, won Rookie of the Year and two Silver Slugger awards, and was named an All-Star, the ligament tear seemed like enough to relegate him to the second or even third tier of shortstops for some owners.
His consensus 2019 ADP, per FantasyPros, was a reasonable 72, likely reflecting concern over his injury and a strong group of shortstops. But Seager was a guy I targeted much earlier, anticipating he could come back into form and put up as good of numbers as any of the roughly 10 or so players at the position commonly drafted before him.
In the season’s early days, my optimism and eagerness looked misplaced as Seager struggled in March and April, posting a .697 OPS, .305 wOBA and 91 wRC+. If you’re lucky, maybe some of your leaguemates panicked and dropped or traded Seager at a loss. His struggles continued for a little more than a week into May, but for almost exactly a month now, he has been on the rise.
Going into Sunday’s games, Seager carried an OPS of 1.040 over the past month. He followed up his poor first month with a 123 wRC+ and is at a 211 mark in a little more than a week of games in June.
Since May 12, the day after the lowest point in Seager’s wOBA charted above (right around game 40), Seager has posted a ridiculous .439 wOBA. As you can see on the graph, his improved results have coincided with a significant uptick in his hard-hit rate.
Seager is slugging .465 overall this season and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the power numbers have spiked alongside the aforementioned wOBA and hard-hit rate increases. Seager has slugged an insane .796 since May 26, and his xSLG suggests that while that video-game level number isn’t going to stay that high, he has earned his power. A .580 xSLG over that time frame hardly makes me think things have come cheap. There is also nothing scary in Seager’s 10.4 HR/FB% or .312 BABIP.
It’s also worth pointing out that Seager’s incredibly disciplined plate approach has remained intact, as his walk rate sits north of 10% and his K rate lower than 20%. That good eye has also helped him to a typically low soft contact rate of 15.7%.
It’s not particularly surprising to me that Seager struggled out of the gate this season, but nor is it surprising that he appears to have busted out in a big way. There’s nothing that I can find that clearly shows a change in Seager’s 2019 season between his poor start and his torrid past month or so, so it may be as simple as the fact that Corey Seager is an elite player with elite skills who needed time to readjust to seeing major league pitching on a regular basis.
Here’s to hoping he slipped through the cracks to you.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)