After finishing in the top 3 in MVP voting following his 2016 rookie campaign, Corey Seager didn’t even finish in the top 15 in 2017. Despite his very slight regression in 2017, he is my very early pick for the 2018 National League MVP.
Corey Seager is a special talent, and there is no doubt about that. The scarier part is he will be just 24-years-old during the 2018 season. Most players don’t hit their prime until 26-27, and it lasts up to 3 seasons. Seager is barely scratching the surface on what he can become as a major leaguer.
I believe 2018 is his year to let the baseball world who he is and that he is here to stay. Much like another shortstop did in his 3rd season. That shortstop is future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter. Their first two full seasons are eerily similar.
Jeter was able to win the AL Rookie of the Year in 1996, like Seager in 2016. In their rookie years, both players posted above a .300 batting average and above a .350 OBP. The following seasons both players “regressed” if you could even call it that. If anything they took a step sideways rather than a step forward.
Even then, Jeter and Seager both saw their batting averages dip just below .300. However, Jeter kept his OBP the same at .370 and Seager improved his from .365 to .375 during his so-called, “sophomore slump.”
It was in Jeter’s 3rd complete season where he had his coming out party. Hitting .324 and raising his OBP up to .384. Jeter also nearly doubled his home run total, humping from 10 to 19 in his 3rd season. He didn’t win the MVP but finished 3rd behind Nomar Garciaparra and Juan Gonzalez despite Jeter having a higher WAR.
Hopefully, Seager can continue on this path and have a breakout 3rd season like Derek Jeter. I believe he will, and that will earn him his first National League MVP.
Seager has all the tools offensively to become one of the best hitters in all of baseball. He makes adjustments when necessary, and his approach is like that of a savvy veteran rather than a 3rd-year player.
Also, another thing to take note of is Seager will walk into the 2018 season healthier than he did in 2017. Corey was banged up since spring training with a lingering elbow issue and had a back problem throughout the year, but he gutted it out and still performed well.
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Everything is lined up for him to breakout for a monster year in 2018. He will be fully healthy with an entire offseason to recover. He will have some protection in this lineup. Justin Turner will finally get the respect he deserves, Cody Bellinger is always scary to pitch to, and Chris Taylor will be a table setter that Seager hasn’t had.
Yasiel Puig will hopefully build on his 2017 season and play just as well. Logan Forsythe looked like a different player during the second half of the season and into the playoffs Whoever is catching will be a threat offensively and last, but not least, a healthy Matt Kemp adds even more lineup depth if he remains with the Dodgers.
With this deep of a lineup, it will be hard for opposing pitchers to pitch around Corey Seager. Even if they do pitch around him, Seager is disciplined enough to take his walk and just build that OBP.
When it comes to voting for the MVP, it is about 99% offense and 1% defense. Nonetheless, that one percent could be a deciding factor in who gets a vote. Corey Seager has made significant defensive improvements and nearly won a Gold Glove in 2017. He is Seager smooth out at shortstop and could be in line for a gold glove to go along with his MVP in 2018.
Here are a few players that will be threats to my prediction.
First, we’ll start with that pesky Paul Goldschmidt who just always seems to have spectacular year after spectacular year. He does damage no matter who hits around him. Dodger fans know firsthand what he can do to a baseball. Hopefully, the Dodger killer doesn’t kill this young Dodgers MVP dreams with another monster season.
Staying at first base, Joey Votto. He is a hitting machine. Luckily for Seager, he is getting older and plays for a terrible team. Voters don’t like it when a candidate is playing for a team that is not even competitive.
Bryce Harper could be a threat if he figures out that he’s Bryce Harper like he did in 2015. Finally, we’ll end at third base with two candidates, Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado. Bryant has all the tools offensively, but I believe Seager will outplay him this year. Arenado plays in Colorado and voters will always dock him points for that.
With that said I honestly believe Seager outplays all of the players mentioned above. He is set for a breakout year in Los Angeles. Everything is lined up perfectly, health, deep lineup, his mentality and many more things. My prediction for Seager is a slash of .330/ .400/ .540 with 30 bombs and 90 RBI’s.