The Dodgers have nine games to figure out how to get on the right track for the playoffs starting tonight with San Francisco.
The Dodgers can clinch the division tonight, but the real contest at this point is for home-field advantage. Currently, they sit four-and-a-half games above the Nationals for the best record in the National League and have one game over the Indians for the best record overall.
The team obviously wants to keep that advantage heading into the postseason but just as important as that is getting a good feeling going in the clubhouse heading into October. To get that juju flowing, after so many games played and the monotony of the season, sometimes, the right change can be just what a team needs.
For the Dodgers’ struggles recently, the correlation between Corey Seager’s absence and a streak where they have lost 20 of 26 is not hard to see. His elbow has suddenly taken the smooth-swinging, bullet throwing player that he is into a lesser shell of that. Still a good player, but it’s hard mentally and physically to overcome that hurdle without taking time off.
Unfortunately, the 23-year-old will have some time off as he sits the next few days with a sore ankle.
As the kid sits and waits, we can all take some time to think about what may help to get him back on track. Now, I’ve got an idea, it may be a little crazy, but I think it would certainly help Seager focus on his swing, which is what the Dodgers have come to rely so heavily upon.
Every fan has their idea about the change the Dodgers need to make: Barnes to second base, Ethier starts in left, Taylor to second base. Whatever it is, we haven’t seen it yet, so here’s my take:
Corey Seager should play first base the rest of the year or until he feels healthy enough to play shortstop.
Now, before you tell me that second is the only place he should move or that he shouldn’t at all, know that I respect that. I also think it’s wrong.
His arm isn’t going to get healthier, so the throws from short will only get harder until he has a chance to rehab, and continuing to throw the rest of the year could turn this into serious damage.
Second base may seem like the easy move; still up the middle, shorter throw in theory and maybe an easier transition. But there are a lot of long throws from second, and even if they aren’t long, they are quick and often times without your whole lower half under you.
When you throw with pain (which I HIGHLY advise against), your mechanics become even more important and using your entire body to throw rather than just your arm is the only relief you get sometimes.
Slow rollers, balls up the middle, spinning throws from the three-four hole, that is all stress on someone’s arm. Turning double plays at second is no break either. The transfer there is tough enough, trying to make that dart-like throw with a sore elbow is just asking too much.
So, why not first base? Sure, he’s never played a game there, at least never professionally, but that transition is not that hard for a middle infielder.
Now, before you send me a link to the Moneyball scene where they try and tell Scott Hatteberg it’s not hard, know that we aren’t dealing with a journeyman, we’re talking about a perennial Gold Glover in Seager.
This transition is often seen for big leaguers too, usually as more of a career move for an aging middle-infielder with a bat, but if that works, why wouldn’t it for a player entering his prime?
If Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez can play a serviceable first base at this point in their careers, there is no reason Seager can’t for the remainder of this year. The kid is an athlete and one of the smoothest fielders in the league, there is no doubt he can do that.
It eliminates throws, keeps him focused on the bat and allows for both his ankle and elbow to get a little break from the wear and tear.
The next big question is what happens to the current first baseman and who plays short?
Well, I feel like after watching Chris Taylor range to his right against Philadelphia, short hop a ball in the five-six hole and rocket one across the diamond for an out, he can probably handle short.
And Cody Bellinger has been just as serviceable in the outfield. He’s roamed center field with ease and has the athletic ability to prove he can do it on a regular basis. Kiké Hernandez can play both spots as well.
There are a lot of pros and cons to this, and I’m happy to argue about them with you on Twitter (@sullayyy), but I think this is an idea that is positive overall, helps Seager, helps the team and can be part of what gets them back on track.
Plus, if the former Rookie of the Year feels good, they can always slide him back to the six.