Corey Seager 2020 MVP?

Corey Seager is off to a hot start, but how hot? Well, on a team with 3 former MVPs, it’s looking like Seager may be the next to add the most prestigious individual hardware to his collection. But he’s not drawing the same attention other players around the league are getting for similar performances. So is Seager capable of an MVP season? And if so, what’s standing in his way?

Highlights

  • The Pedigree
  • Statcast Phenom
  • His Current Competition
  • What He Needs To Do
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Seager’s Pedigree

The Dodgers are constantly producing headlines, it’s easy to get overlooked. Especially when you have a long IL stint. So here’s a reminder of Seager’s past.

He was called up September 2015 and OPS’d a “measly” .986 to make the postseason roster. Still, he was able to keep his prospect status and was THE TOP prospect of 2016. Not just in the Dodger’s organization but in all of baseball. Just to give you an idea of the depth of that year, fellow ROY, Aaron Judge, was ranked 22nd overall.

No other top prospect on this Dodger team has ever been rated so highly. Gavin Lux is the only other prospect to rank in the top 10 for the past decade. So yeah, according to scouts, Seager has always had the highest ceiling out of these Dodgers.

2020 Statcast Phenom

When Scouts talk about “the eye test”, they mean they’re ignoring the actual stats and deciding if they have been unlucky or lucky. Essentially, should their stats be better? But now, statcast has actually created algorithms to do the eye test for us. Even more, they can give us the estimated stats based on the players actual at bats.

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And according to these expected stats, Seager is the best hitter in baseball, in every slash category.

In other words, Seager should be leading the league in every average category. He’s hitting and seeing the ball so well, statcast says that if Seager wasn’t so unlucky he’d be OPS’ing 1.518. In reality his OPS is 0.989. Statcast actually ranks him as the UNLUCKIEST hitter in baseball right now.

The current leader is Nick Castellanos at 1.251. But his expected stats are lower than Seager’s by almost 200 points. Castellanos sits at 1.349. Fantastic, but shows he hasn’t faced much bad luck. Granted it’s much harder to have home runs robbed than Seager’s line drives.

But Seager is also shining when it comes to hitting the ball hard, putting the ball in play, and just straight up barreling balls.

His average exit velocity is at 94.8 MPH. He’s tied with home run leader Aaron Judge. He leads the league in barrels with Castellanos, and stands alone in barrels/PA %. He also has more hard hit balls (95+ MPH) than anyone at 28. Second place is 22.

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But probably one of the most impressive stats of Seager is his 5 strikeouts in 50 ABs. The K% puts him in the top 15 players of the league. But this also makes all his other stats even more impressive. Seager is almost exclusively putting the ball in play, and extremely well.

His Competition

  • Nick Castellanos, OF/DH, Reds

He’s one of the current favorites for NL MVP as we round out the first quarter of the season. Here’s his statcast.

Not taking away from the year Castellanos is having, Seager should just be having a much better one. Castellanos is hitting the ball extremely well, but that’s when he makes contact. He’s missing the ball and striking out much more than Seager. Not to mention he’s towards the very bottom of the league defensively at a much easier position.

  • Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres

He looked like the easy favorite for NL ROY before a rookie season robbing injury. But he’s back and he’s mashing the Padres into contention. He leads the NL in WAR along with Mike Yastrzemski so far. He’s hitting .291/.391/.637 to start the year. He’s one of the fastest players in the league. He’s electric defensively. Quite simply, Tatis has that X factor. He’ll probably also wing up a leader in total ABs by the end of the year sitting at the top of a better than expected offense. He’s also just a stat producing machine with 12 runs, 5 homers, 14 RBI, and 4 SBs. That’s with only 16 hits. If the Padres make winning the new norm, this kid will be a big reason why.

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  • Mookie Betts, RF, Dodgers

Finally, Seager’s greatest competition may actually come from being on the best lineup in baseball. Seager hasn’t hit in the top 4 of the order the entire season. Largely due to the addition of this guy right here. But boy is it hard to be upset. After Mookie’s double and home run last night, not to mention his amazing defense to start the year, Betts actually leads the Dodgers in WAR. And that’s with missing the full series against the Padres.

Betts hits either 1 or 2 for the most loaded lineup in the NL. And from there he’s hitting .306/.370/.612. That was after having a disappointing OPS of .340 after the first series against the Giants. But now he’s up to .982 and making an impact every day.

What Does Seager Need To Do?

STAY HEALTHY. Which is why his lower back discomfort is deeply concerning. But hopefully it was more precautionary than anything else and we’ll see Seager in a day or two.

If he can do that, he needs to force Roberts to put him back at the top of the lineup. He deserves Max Muncy’s spot up top. The tandem of Seager and Betts will up both of their production stats tremendously.

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