Once again we’re looking at a LA Dodgers team that looks to top not just the NL West with a possible 100+ win season, but top all of the MLB with the star-studded roster heading into 2020. Not only will the team likely be breaking records but we’ll be seeing individual athletes on the roster setting career highs and possibly even league leading statistics.
Can Cody Bellinger once again run through another season of career highs and top the charts in home runs? Will Mookie Betts revive his 2018 MVP form and create a dominating legacy that stretches over both the east and west coast?
Above all of that, beyond the Bellinger Triple Crown aspirations and the Mookie excitement lies another hopeful looking to not only reclaim his previous form, but add another MVP candidate into the Dodgers.
The former Rookie of the Year and 2016 third-place MVP Finisher hasn’t had a fully healthy season since 2017. That campaign slashed .295/.375/.479 and won a Silver Slugger, a year which also happened to mark his last All-Star appearance. His previous two campaigns have seen him struggle with injury and miss considerable time; 2018 seeing Seager go down with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery whilst 2019 saw him miss an entire month’s worth of play with a hamstring injury.
Despite that missed time in 2019, Seager still appeared in 134 games, his most since his All-Star 2016-2017 season. Moreover, Seager still managed to co-lead the entire NL in doubles with 44 total doubles across his 489 ABs. For contextual reference, Anthony Rendon and Seager were tied for doubles leader in 2019 yet Rendon saw 56 more ABs than the Dodger shortstop.
Corey Corey Seager Seager.
Mr. Double is at it again.pic.twitter.com/Et26ssis6V
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) September 18, 2019
Seager’s last two 500+ AB seasons also happened to be his two All-Star seasons; logically speaking you can pencil in Seager for another All-Star accolade just off the prediction of a 500+ AB season. With enough ABs would seeing Seager knock in a 50 double be a real possibility? That’s a good question to ask, probably a question you should be asking your local bookie. A serious return to MVP-caliber form is quite plausible for Corey Seager, who will be entering his age 26 season in 2020.
The one factor that really adds to Seager’s chances at a career year is the fact that he entered the 2019 season without much of a Spring Training and had an incredibly slow start to the season. His March/April totals were his worst almost across the board aside from his July totals, which was the month he returned from his hamstring injury. In March/April Seager hit just .236/.333/.364 with 2 HRs and 9 RBIs in 110 AB’s; in a sense you could consider this his Spring Training given his lack of preparation coming into the season (due to Tommy John surgery recovery). However, Seager’s bat returned to snuff quite quickly, and by June he was smacking the ball to the tune of a 1.140 OPS (. For comparison, Mookie Betts hightest total OPS came in July when he logged an OPS of 1.085, and this isn’t to say that Seager is better than Betts, only that he can produce at the same caliber as annual MVP candidates and sometimes even better.
The issue with Seager is injury, of course, and the months surrounding his injury. It’s as easy as looking at his rising/falling OPS totals leading up to and leading away from his injury.
- March/April: .697 OPS (110 ABs)
- May: .852 OPS (87 ABs)
- June [month of injury]: 1.140 OPS (40 ABs)
- July [month of return]: .663 OPS (64 ABs)
- August: .784 OPS (102 ABs)
- September: .939 OPS (86 ABs)
I realize how obvious it is to say that an athlete was better before his injury and took some time to get better after his injury, but as we’ve seen in sports it’s never that easy — especially in baseball for some reason. The fact that Corey Seager, having virtually no Spring Training, was able to firmly recollect himself, during a live season nonetheless, and hit the strides he did in May and June show the consistency and exponential growth you would not just expect, but require, from an MVP candidate. Adding in the fact that he was able to return from his injury and build back up to form in a sport where it is common to spurt and sputter after injury is another sign of burgeoning consistency and growth into the player he has always been.
You can never guarantee consistency in baseball which is why guys with uber-consistency are extremely valued in this sport, whether that consistency happens to be of averageness or of greatness. With Seager being able to head into the 2020 season with a fresh level of preparedness, aside from the suspension of the season, we’re in line to see Seager return to MVP caliber form just in time to catapult the Dodgers to another World Series alongside Bellinger, Betts and company.
The most obvious candidate for MVP among this talented Dodgers core would have to be the 2019 NL recipient Cody Bellinger. Some might want to argue that Mookie Betts can edge out Bellinger for an MVP by years end, but if we base MVP likeliness off of career trends you can see that Bellinger could easily edge out Betts as an MVP favorite. To be fair to Betts when he is at the top of his game he can edge Bellinger out in most categories except HR totals, but at the end of the day nothing beats 50 HRs when its coupled with an all around MVP stat line. A shift from the hitter friendly Green Monster in Boston to the more level atmosphere of LA probably won’t hamper his numbers, but it might not add to his flashy bat either. Only twice in his career has Betts eclipsed 30 HRs and while that lacking HR total won’t kill his MVP chances it might not make him look as pretty as a near 50 HR hitting Bellinger.
thread of MLB star player combos better than Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts pic.twitter.com/pbpZTC67dO
— Bruce K (@Bnicklaus7) February 22, 2020
All in all, a lot can be said about the upcoming two-man race for NL MVP between Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts in 2020, but not enough has been said about team-mate Corey Seager who has the talent to hang with them all year round. Seags has already shown that he can battle with the best when it comes to the MVP race with his third place finish in 2016, though it should be noted that was a season before Cody Bellinger made his way into the MLB. If we have everyone performing at prime form through 2020 Corey Seager would likely be the third man up behind Bellinger and Betts, but what’s important isn’t Seager winning MVP but putting up MVP numbers. And with production like that Seager could immediately cement himself as one of the best shortstops in all of baseball.
Francisco Lindor who?