Corey Seager: Fantasy Doppelgänger

Los Angeles Dodgers LogoWhat we have here is a 6’4”, 210 pound, sweet swinging lefty hitting shortstop who will be just 22 years old come April, 2016. Corey Seager should not be confused with older brother Kyle Seager. Or should he? For now we rank Corey Seager as a shortstop, but over the long haul he might profile much better as a third baseman, like his brother. The task in this exercise will be to determine Corey Seager’s floor and ceiling through comparisons to players he could closely mirror now and in the future.

Corey Seager was a fast riser through the Dodgers’ system, clearing A-Ball in 181 games, AA-Ball in 58 games, and then wrapping things up with a 105 game stint in AAA before his big league promotion in September. Where Corey Seager has made the greatest gains in his short time as a professional is in his K%. His progress isn’t perfectly linear, but it’s pretty dang close; perhaps most impressive is that he was striking out as high as a 27.2% clip in A-ball back in 2013 and managed to hold a 16.8% strike out rate during his 113 MLB plate appearances once he arrived to the big club this past season.

Perhaps the most eye-popping stat from his short time with the big club was that his BB rate o (12.4%) was as high as it had been at any level. Consequently, Corey Seager’s BB/K rate of 0.74 was also the best it had been at any level. If this is to become a continued maturation of his game, it will go a long way to helping him meet his ceiling.

Should the younger Seager remain a shortstop for the foreseeable future, he kind of gives me the Cal Ripken Jr. vibe. So I am comparing him to a hall of famer who took days off as frequently as Hugh Hefner? Nope, you would not take a day off either if you were Hef. And no, I am not surprised that our sub-25 year old demographic are familiar with the older Hugh Hefner, but cannot quite figure who this Cal Ripken Jr. character is.

Okay, back to the serious stuff. Cal Ripken Jr. swung lumber from the right side of the plate as opposed to the young lefty shortstop we are profiling here, but stats are all we really care about. Lefty bat comparisons for Corey Seager are hard to come by at the SS and 3B positions. Cal sized up similarly with a playing weight of 225 pounds at Seager’s same 6’4” height. Corey Seager has plenty of time to fill out his frame and should easily bulk up to Cal’s 225 pounds in a few years, especially if he is moved to third base. Coincidentally, Cal also made a late career position change to the hot corner. I see Seager making that transition much sooner in his career.

A look at Cal’s baseball card shows a bubble gum stain. Beneath that stain is a guy who posted a 90/28/93/3/.264 season at the age of 22. Nothing about Corey Seager’s brief 2015 audition that saw him whack away to a 17/4/17/2/.337 slash line suggests he could not match Cal’s age-22 season. We just have to be careful with our abbreviated season extrapolations when looking at young players. Cal was awarded Rookie of the Year honors during that 22-year-old season and Corey Seager could easily do the same in 2016 if all breaks right.

Cal had just one season where he finished north of 30 jacks. Most seasons through Cal’s prime, he could be counted on for 20-27 home runs, 80-110 runs, 80-110 RBI, a .260-.300 average, and a few stolen bases. The Dodgers are already entrusting Seager to hit anywhere from 2nd to 5th in their lineup, and he should call the middle of the order home for years to come. An 80/20/80/3/.260 floor should be well within Corey Seager’s reach for many years to come and there should certainly be years where he exceeds those marks.

For a modern-day shortstop comparison, this writer sees Corey Seager’s most likely doppelgänger to be one Troy Trever Tulowitzki; the healthy road version that is. Yes, I just went from a warrior in Cal Ripken Jr. who played 162 games every year to Troy Tulowitki who plays 162 games every two seasons combined. Like Seager, Tulo plays at a lanky 6’3, 215 pounds and has been considered a first or second round fantasy player for years. If Tulo played all his games on the road, he too would post slash lines in the 80/20/80/3/.260 range. Health issues have kept Tulowitzki from being a high first rounder, while his years of playing home games in Colorado kept him from sliding into the third to fourth round range. If the younger Seager is to remain at shortstop, I could see him going in the second to early third round range once he more firmly establishes his value.

We are entering exciting times at the shortstop position with Corey Seager joining the likes of young A-Rod clone Carlos Correa, and slick fielding Francisco Lindor who carries many of the intangibles seen from recently retired Yankee great, Derek Jeter.

How soon that young trio becomes a party of two is certainly worth discussing when it comes to Corey Seager. As the Assembly’s resident West Coaster, I can tell you that Seager can certainly butcher a routine play up the middle. His lankiness makes it difficult to see him remaining at short. The Dodgers have Jose Peraza who came up through the Braves’ system as a natural shortstop. Peraza has recently been moved around the field to take up time at second base as well as center field so he may or may not be a threat to Seager’s status as a shortstop. The Dodgers also may look to shake things up this winter. Yasiel Puig could be dangled for organizations to take a chance on. A deal centered on Puig and the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus is a possibility among other potential Puig deals that will become hot topic as we approach the Winter Meetings. Another factor that leads me to believe Seager will be moved to the hot corner sooner than later is that current Dodgers’ third baseman Justin Turner’s contract expires after the 2016 season.

Assuming an eventual move to 3B happens, this brings us back to where the article began. Perhaps Corey Seager’s most likely long-term doppelgänger is actually brother Kyle. That sure sounds boring, doesn’t it? Going from Cal Ripken Jr., to Tulowitzki, and now to Kyle Seager is quite the drop off on the excitement meter. As boring as Kyle Seager seems to be, he has averaged a 78/24/80/7/.263 slash line the past three seasons in Seattle. That looks pretty close to the floor numbers of Cal Ripken Jr. and the road version of Troy Tulowitzki. Something the lefty swinging 6’0”, 210 pound Kyle Seager does not do for us is provide a ceiling for what we can hope for from younger brother Corey should he be moved to 3B.

What could that ceiling look like? Assuming a move to third base allows Seager to fill out a bit more than if he remained at shortstop, the ceiling I envision for him would be that of the best years we got from Evan Longoria. Hopefully you can remember back to Longoria’s slash lines of 100/33/113/9/.281 as a 24-year-old in 2009 or his 91/32/88/1/.269 season in 2013. If this is to be Corey Seager’s ceiling, hopefully he can be more consistent than the Rays third baseman and consequently a lot less frustrating to own.

Corey Seager Fantasy DoppelgangerAs we narrow this down, we have established that Corey Seager’s ceiling should he remain at shortstop for the foreseeable future is that he becomes doppelgänger to Cal Ripken Jr.  The floor to middle ground as a shortstop is that our soon to be 22-year-old feature player becomes doppelgänger to the healthy road version of Troy Tulowitzki.

With a transition to third base looming, Corey Seager has a floor that makes him doppelgänger to his older brother, Kyle Seager. Should he continue to evolve and make the most of his pedigree, we could be looking at a ceiling that would make Corey Seager doppelgänger to the best of Evan Longoria.

Ultimately, I believe Corey Seager will carry the value of the healthy road version of Troy Tulowitzki as long as he remains a shortstop. Long term I believe Seager makes the transition to third base and posts seasons on par with the best of what Evan Longoria has produced. Of course, with Longoria being mentioned it is fair to worry there could be some disappointment ahead for Corey Seager, especially when compared to a young crop of 3B’s that include Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, and Kris Bryant.

 

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Ron Vackar
Though Ron is a Dodgers fan, he is more likely to be found at Angel Stadium or Petco Park during the regular season. The Dodgers play 9-10 games a year in San Diego so Petco is basically Dodgers Stadium south. By day he is a high school teacher as well as a golf coach and previously coached baseball. When not working, he can be found at home with his beautiful wife and dog Brooklyn.
Ron Vackar

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