Corey Seager has been a revelation for the Los Angeles Dodgers since debuting September 3. Because of a wrinkle in the rulebook, Seager, who was not called up before the August 31 deadline, is still eligible for the Dodgers’ postseason roster. Since debuting, all the 21-year-old shortstop has done is hit. In 20 games with the Dodgers, Seager has posted a .347/.447/.611 line with three homers and 13 RBI. Seager has also walked 12 times versus 11 strikeouts.
That Seager has exploded onto the scene offensively should come as no surprise. This is a player with a .307 minor league batting average. The only real bump in the road for Seager came in 2013 when he batted just .160 when reaching High-A ball for the first time. He has hit well over .300 the past two years at the Double-A and Triple-A levels.
Seager’s hot offensive start has many calling for him to continue starting over Jimmy Rollins in the playoffs. Rollins is in the twilight of his career, and has hit only .224 this season. Basing the decision purely on offensive production, Don Mattingly should go with Seager as his starting shortstop in the playoffs, but there are big questions that need to be answered regarding Seager’s defense.
When a young prospect is called up and starts tearing the cover off the ball, defensive concerns are often swept under the rug. Seager has already made five errors in 16 games at shortstop for the Dodgers. He made a potentially costly error in the bottom of the eighth inning last night. In 390 career minor league games, Seager has committed 73 errors. Rollins, on the other hand, has kicked away only nine outs all season and is a four-time Gold Glove winner. Seager’s glove will come around eventually. Rollins is an excellent fielder, but even he committed a career-high 14 errors in his rookie season.
The Dodgers will draw the New York Mets in the NLDS. Runs will be at a premium as the Dodgers try and crack the Mets trio of young studs. Mattingly will be faced with a potential Catch-22 with Seager. The rookie’s bat is valuable in the lineup. Opponents have not yet figured out his cold zones, and will not have him figured out come October. On the flip side, Seager’s glove could be an issue. The Dodgers can ill-afford to allow unearned runs in the postseason when matching up against Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. Should the Dodgers advance to face the winner of the St. Louis Cardinals/Pittsburgh Pirates/Chicago Cubs, run prevention will again be a big concern, especially if St. Louis advances. There is no team in baseball better at capitalizing upon defensive gaffes than the Cardinals.
The Dodgers must have Corey Seager’s bat in the lineup. He has shown an incredibly mature approach at the plate in just 20 games. That approach will carry him through the playoffs. That his glove still has a lot of maturing to do is obvious, but the Dodgers need his run producing abilities, especially with fellow rookie Joc Pederson continuing to slump. With Rollins on the bench to start, Mattingly will have a dependable glove to utilize in end-of-game situations. That’s where Rollins is most valuable to the Dodgers as they begin their quest to win the World Series for the first time since 1988. Corey Seager’s offensive abilities are too strong to override his defensive foibles, but look for Rollins to come in and spell the rookie when things get tight in the seventh inning and beyond.
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