Corey Seager entered the 2021 season in the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and looking to build on his fantastic 2020 season before entering free agency.
The 2020 World Series MVP got off to a slow start by his standards, hitting .256/.361/.422 with a 116 wRC+ before his season was paused in the middle on May 15.
Seager was struck by a 90 mph pitch that fractured his right hand and forced the Dodgers to place him on the 10-day injured list before he was later transferred to the 60-day IL.
The injury kept Seager out of game action until he was activated on July 30.
However, once 2016 Rookie of the Year returned, he was able to pick up where he left off in 2020. From July 30 through the end of the season, Seager hit .335/.417/.592 with 12 home runs, a 169 wRC+ and 2.8 WAR in 58 games.
During that time period, he was walking only 3% less than striking out and led the team in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, RBI, wRC+ and WAR while also coming in second in batting average to Trea Turner (.338) and home runs to Max Muncy (14).
Only four hitters in the National League finished the season with a better wRC+ over that stretch and only five finished with a better on-base plus slugging.
Although he was limited to 95 games, Seager finished the 2021 season with arguably the best year of his career by hitting .306/.394/.521 with a 147 wRC+, 16 home runs, 57 RBI and 3.7 WAR.
The performance proved Seager as one of MLB’s best hitters and set himself up to be the top free agent on the market once the season ended.
However, once the postseason came, Seager, like most of the Dodgers’ lineup, struggled to find consistent success. In 12 games, he only hit .188/.264/.375 with two home runs.
After the season, Seager became a free agent and quickly signed a 10-year, $325 million contract with the Texas Rangers despite the Dodgers’ efforts to keep him.
Seager’s 2021 highlight
Seager’s highlight of 2021 came during a stretch of the final few days of the regular season as the Dodgers were fighting for a chance to win the NL West division title.
From Sept. 23-30, Seager hit .483/.545/1.718 with a 337 wRC+ and five home runs in 33 plate appearances. Everything except his on-base percentage — where he was third — led MLB during that week.
That stretch of games also included a four-hit performance on Sept. 23 and multiple two-home run games, which came on Sept. 26 and 30.
Seager now enters 2022 in a new state and on a new team, looking to lead the Rangers back into relevance.
The best stretch of Seager’s career came during the 2020 postseason while he played at Globe Life Field, so despite the new team, he has some familiarity with the new home.
The Rangers will lean on Seager and their other newly signed infielder — Marcus Semien — to carry their offense, but it would still be shocking to see them reach the postseason unless MLB expands the playoff format.
Regardless, Seager should continue to be one of baseball’s best hitters as long as he stays healthy.
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