Rookie takes over NL West-clinching victory on offense, defense
By Matt Kelly
At just 22 years old, Corey Seager has emerged as the Dodgers' best player and perhaps one of the best players in the National League. The way Seager has played so far beyond his age in 2016, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he led his team to its biggest win of the season Sunday, a 4-3 division-clinching victory.
The Dodgers stood on the verge of clinching the NL West with a win Sunday. They were tied with the Rockies in the bottom of the eighth (thanks to a seventh-inning RBI triple hit by, who else, Seager) when Colorado's DJ LeMahieu hit a hot shot up the middle. Seager ranged to his left with a first-step reaction time of just three one-hundredths of a second and covered 20 feet, according to Statcast™, before diving behind second base to stop the ball.
The young shortstop's reaction on a ball that took just 1.6 seconds to get from LeMahieu's bat to his glove was impressive enough, but Seager fired up the Dodger Stadium crowd even more with what he did next. Rising and firing, Seager delivered a laser throw 108.6 feet down the first-base line at 83.3 mph -- his thirrd-hardest throw to first this year -- to take a hit away from a hustling LeMahieu.
L.A. then found itself down a run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth until Seager hit a solo homer to tie it. His blast traveled off the bat at 112.2 mph, making it his hardest-hit home run and second hardest-hit ball of any kind this season. The game-tying shot set the stage for Charlie Culberson's game-winner in the 10th, clinching the Dodgers' fourth straight NL West crown.
It was a complete performance by Seager and a game that epitomized his candidacy for not only the NL Rookie of the Year, but also the league's MVP. Seager's 139 OPS+ entering Sunday ranked as the highest of any rookie shortstop since at least 1913, and his 7.4 wins above replacement (WAR) rating, per Fangraphs, ranked second only to Kris Bryant's 8.3.
For a team that found itself eight games back of the Giants in June when Clayton Kershaw hit the disabled list, it's hard to picture how L.A. could have captured its improbable division crown without Seager leading the charge.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.