NEW YORK – For someone who is supposed to be too big for the position he plays, Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is certainly playing it very well.
By Fangraphs’ measures, Seager ranks first among National League shortstops (and fourth in the majors) in defensive WAR and second behind Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (fifth in the majors) in UZR at the position this season. Both are improvements over his ranking as a rookie last season.
“Corey is as in tune a young player as I’ve ever seen,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I say that in the sense of the positioning information which we get – which is elite – and him working with (infield coach) Chris Woodward very well. He’s in tune with the pitch sequences and knowing the coverages. There’s been many times when he’s called the right coverages that have kept balls in play in the infield and we’ve turned double plays because the right coverage was in place for the pitch coming up.
“He’s moving really well. I thought last year there was some fatigue for whatever reason and he wasn’t moving as well in September. I think he looks fantastic. Again, he’s in tune and he’s performing at a high level.”
The polite and accommodating Seager has always been irritated by suggestions that his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame was not suited for shortstop. And he doesn’t look at positioning and pregame study as ways to compensate for any deficiencies in range or quickness caused by his size.
“I don’t look at it like that,” Seager said. “I look at it as — if I don’t do it, I’m letting somebody down. I’m letting JT (third baseman Justin Turner) down on where I am. I’m letting the pitcher down on how he’s trying to gameplan and strategize. It’s more that way of thinking than my need to cover different areas. It’s that sort of way of thinking instead.”
Having a year’s worth of on-field experience with opposing teams and hitters is “crucial,” he said, because studying video “doesn’t do as much justice on defense as it does offensively.” You have to see first hand how the ball comes off the bat of individual hitters, he said.
As good as Seager has been defensively, he rarely appears on highlight shows making plays at shortstop. He’s fine with that.
“It’s not always about the highlight plays,” he said. “It’s just like we’ve been preaching about grinding out ABs, grinding out pitches. It’s not the spectacular play that always wins you games….