The Dodgers offense has been really struggling during their losing streak, and Corey Seager’s absence might be the main reason why.
After getting swept by potential NLDS match up and division rival the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second time in the last two weeks the Dodgers have now lost 11 of their last 12 games. The Dodgers still have a 10.5 game lead in the west and have the best record in baseball, so there is no reason to panic, but there are some reasons to be concerned. Anytime a team goes on a losing skid like this there is more than one reason why.
The Dodgers starting pitching hasn’t been as effective, the back end of the bullpen leading up to Kenley Jansen has imploded, and they are simply just not hitting at all.
The Dodgers are only averaging 2.25 runs per game over their last 12 games. Many people thought that once Cody Bellinger returned to the lineup, the Dodgers offense would get back on track, but that hasn’t been the case. After all, Bellinger is the big home run guy, and the team was struggling at only 9-11 prior to his come up to the start of the season before he came up and the team caught fire.
People were hoping that Bellinger would again be that spark the team needs to get back to winning when he came off the DL, but that hasn’t been the case as the team is only 1-8 since he has been back. When you look at the Dodgers lineup, there is only one big name that is missing right now, Corey Seager.
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It is easy to overlook Seager at times and his importance to the team, especially this season. Bellinger is getting a lot of attention because of his record breaking power as well as Justin Turner earlier in the season when he was hovering around a .400 batting average. But the fact remains that Seager is probably still the best all-around player on this team.
On the season Seager stat lines are .310/ 19 HR/ 65 RBI/ .390 OBP. Seager has been relegated to just pinch hitting duties over the last several games due to elbow inflammation. He hasn’t started a game since August 27 which coincides with the Dodgers starting to struggle around the same time. I don’t think this is a coincidence.
We are just starting to realize Seager is much more valuable to the Dodgers lineup than we think. Seager was just starting to heat up at the time of injury to, hitting .333 for his second consecutive month. The Dodgers have a 71.3 winning percentage in the games Seager starts this year. That is just slightly behind the teams winning percentage with Bellinger in the lineup which is at 73.3 %.
The difference that Seager makes to the middle of the Dodger’s lineup is catastrophic. Seager has been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball ever since his call up in September of 2015. The difference between a player like Seager batting second and a Curtis Granderson, who has been getting most of the starts in the second slot in Seager’s place, is tremendous.
Seager provides a lot of protection for Justin Turner batting behind him. There is a sense of comfort that Seager provides in the 2nd spot in the lineup because you always know what you are going to get. A middle of the lineup of Seager, Turner, and Bellinger instills a lot more fear in the hearts of pitchers. Knowing that you have to get through three All-Star players instead of two provides a sense of distress for pitchers.
Seager is tied for first on the team with Chris Taylor in runs scored (75), and his OBP (.390) is second to Turner. He provides a lot of run scoring opportunities for Turner and Bellinger as opposed to Granderson who is only batting .100 with a .250 OBP since he has been traded to the Dodgers.
The drastic difference between him and Seager is huge, and it shows why the Dodgers offense has been struggling to score runs. At the All-Star break, I wrote in an article that Seager was the most likely Dodger to have a second half breakout and put his name into the MVP discussion. He was well on his way to doing that hitting .333 in the second half. Seager has the highest cumulative WAR on the team and might be the real MVP of the Dodgers seeing how bad the offense is struggling without him. He is expected to return to the starting lineup this weekend against the Rockies, and for the Dodgers, it couldn’t be soon enough.