Corey Seager won the National League Rookie of the Year Award this week by unanimous vote. He became the 17th Dodger to win the award, but only Mike Piazza (1993) was a unanimous selection. Seager became the first Dodger to win the award since 1996, when Todd Hollandsworth earned the honor.
Watching the 22-year-old shortstop every day was a pleasure. It was easy to forget he was a rookie by how he carried himself on and off the field and how he performed. He was the most consistent Dodger, enabling the team to win its fourth consecutive NL West Division title.
From the minute that Seager debuted with Los Angeles in September 2015, everyone knew he would be special. Unlike most rookies, the game was never too fast for him. This enabled him to show his extraordinary offensive prowess from the start and earn a place on the Dodgers' postseason roster.
Although a leg injury prevented him from participating in most of Spring Training, he was ready for Opening Day. Seager's spring injury was a blessing in disguise, as it kept him from getting tired later in the season. Playing 155 games at the most physically demanding position on the field was remarkable for Seager. He could have played more if he didn't get the stomach flu immediately after the All-Star Game in San Diego, where he participated in the Home Run Derby and the Midsummer Classic.
Some baseball "experts" were skeptical as to whether the 6-foot-4 Seager could be a good defensive shortstop because of his height. Although the recent trend for shortstops has been switching from smaller men who were great at defense but had difficulty with offensive production to bigger men who can hit better, many baseball scouts thought Seager was more suited for third base.
Seager has quick reflexes, which help him to catch many line drives that many other shortstops can't get to. His range is fantastic, but his desire to catch anything that he can reach led to some highlight-reel catches. His throwing arm is strong, so he could throw out most runners anywhere from the shortstop position. Working with veteran second baseman Chase Utley enabled the Dodgers to turn many spectacular double plays.
Seager became the first shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997 to earn both the Silver Slugger and the Rookie of the Year Award in the same season. He had the 10th-highest slugging percentage in the NL. His 26 home runs were third on the Dodgers, and if manager Dave Roberts hit Seager lower in the batting order, he would have finished with more than 72 RBIs. Even so, that RBI total included some clutch runs. Seager blasted a dramatic game-tying home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth of the Dodgers' last regular-season home game, sealing the Dodgers' NL West division title.
Seager was quite possibly the best all-around shortstop in the Major Leagues. According to teammate Justin Turner, Seager is already the best player in the game. If he's not, he soon could be. Having an older brother, Kyle, who plays for the Seattle Mariners and is a good player in his own right, has helped Corey to know what to expect in the Major Leagues.
Seager is in the running for the NL MVP Award, but he isn't expected to win. However, without Seager's offensive and defensive contributions, the Dodgers would have been an ordinary team. Despite being a rookie, Seager was a clubhouse leader. He will take more of that role as he matures both as a player and a man.
Sarah D. Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.