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By Jon Weisman
Forget the National League Rookie of the Year race for a moment. It’s time to start thinking of Corey Seager as a potential NL Most Valuable Player.
The 22-year-old shortstop ranks second among NL position players in wins above replacement, and that doesn’t account for Seager hitting his 17th home run and reaching base three times in the Dodgers’ 8-1 pounding of Milwaukee today.
For at least the past month, Clayton Kershaw has been considered the frontrunner for the MVP award, and we’ll keep him there while hoping for his fast recovery from the back distress that is sending him to the disabled list. If it’s not Kershaw, then such position players as Chicago’s Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, Washington’s Daniel Murphy, Colorado’s Nolan Arenado and Matt Carpenter of St. Louis could be considered the leaders.
Either way, Seager has earned a place in the discussion. At the exact midpoint of the 162-game season, Seager has a .359 on-base percentage, .540 slugging percentage, 93 hits, 20 doubles and the 17 homers. He is the league’s best hitter and an above-average defender at baseball’s most challenging position.
If Seager tires under the strain of his first full MLB season, so be it. But if not — if, in fact, the Dodgers don’t disappear like so many expect, but continue to lead the NL Wild Card race and gain on the suddenly struggling NL West-leading Giants — well, we’re telling the baseball world to keep an open mind.