By Jon Weisman
With all the injuries and position flexibility the Dodgers have, it’s not exactly a tough decision for Don Mattingly to put a player with a .543 on-base percentage and .676 slugging percentage in the starting lineup — even if that player is only 21 years and 11 MLB games old.
Sooner or later, the recoveries of Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins could complicate life for Corey Seager’s manager, but I think we’d all register that as a good problem to have.
If and when everyone’s healthy (we should be so lucky), Seager’s going to have opportunities to play, thanks to 1) his ability to play shortstop and third base, 2) Justin Turner’s ability to play third, second and first, 3) the need/desire to give days off to everyone and 4) that talent.
Oh, that talent.
That being said, we all know that Seager can’t maintain a 1.219 OPS or .469 batting average on balls in play. When Seager’s first setback at the plate comes, how severe and prolonged will it be? And how soon? September? October? April?
Other than the massive proportion of his success, nothing Seager has shown has been particularly surprising — his poise, his swing, his dexterity, his power — except for this:
- In Double-A last year, it took Seager 35 games and 38 strikeouts before he got his eighth walk.
- In Triple-A this year, it took Seager 31 games and 21 strikeouts before he got his eighth walk.
- In MLB this month, it took Seager 11 games and four strikeouts before he got his eighth walk.
Valuable as he’s been, it doesn’t stand to reason that Major League pitchers would be more afraid of Seager than the guys in the Pacific Coast League, yet there you are — so far. Over the weekend, Mattingly offered these thoughts, relayed by J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News.
It’s also true that Seager hasn’t faced 11 Jake Arrietas in his MLB career. Garrett Richards and James Shields were the best of the bunch, and Seager went 1 for 6 against the pair with a single, no walks and two strikeouts.
One of these days, Seager is going to strike out two or three times in a game. One of these days, the blank pages of the “Book on Corey Seager” will start to be filled in, and just like Yasiel Puig, just like Joc Pederson — heck, just like Mike Trout — we’ll be waiting to see how well and how fast Seager adjusts. He’ll have an 0-for-9, or a 1-for-15, and if it comes in a crucial series, patience will be stretched like a rubber band from here to New York.
“They’re still learning me, and I’m still learning them,” Seager told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “Right now I’m getting pitches I can handle, and they’re falling in. I imagine soon they’ll start changing, and I’ll have to make the adjustment.”
What’s so beguiling about Seager is how firmly he makes you believe that when the time comes, he will figure it all out.