The defense of Dodgers’ shortstop Corey Seager has been shaky for the first month of 2021. In both the Cubs and Brewers series, Seager has not been able to convert grounders into outs in crucial situations. Particularly late in games.
ESPN’s Buster Olney and Paul “Hembo” Hembekides discussed Seager’s defensive metrics this week on an episode of Baseball Tonight. Hembo did not pull any punches.
“He’s graded as a league average defender at shortstop for most of his career. But, his numbers so far this season have been pretty ugly.”
For the traditionalists, Seager ranks 14th in fielding percentage (.965) among shortstops in 2021 through Wednesday. Yet, the advanced metrics judge Seager much more harshly.
“He’s minus 3 defensive runs saved and he’s minus 4 outs above average. I do expect those to flatline as we go forward.”
According to Baseball Savant, Seager ranks almost dead last in outs above average (29th). In defensive runs saved, Seager slots in at 22nd in the league per FanGraphs. Hopefully his stats do regress to the mean as Hembo suggests.
Seager has to be better with the leather for this Dodgers team to get back on track. He’s proven he can do that, but the time is now.
Destined for the Hot Corner?
Hembo took things a step further with Seager and posed a serious question about his longevity at the shortstop position.
“It is reasonable to have a discussion regarding his viability at the position long-term. He’s listed at six foot four. That makes him one of the biggest shortstops in the history of major league baseball. As these guys approach free agency this winter [Correa and Seager], how much of the conversation, how many dollars at stake, on whether or not they’re going to stay at shortstop, or move to the corner of the diamond?”
It’s certainly an interesting question – how many more years can Seager play shortstop? How will that affect his impending free agency? Would he be more open to a move to third than in the past? Those answers will have to wait.
Los Angeles needs Seager to routinely convert grounders into outs today, tomorrow, and the next day at shortstop.