In the New York Yankees‘ forthcoming “Great Shortstop Race” between Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Carlos Correa and a few ancillary contenders, the Dodgers star’s greatest attributes are said to be his “clutch gene,” big-game experience, and the fact that he’ll probably move to third base in a few years, anyway, which could accommodate Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza.
After taking in Sunday night’s action in NLCS Game 2 against the Atlanta Braves, are we so sure about that?
Though the game began with a two-run Seager home run meant to establish dominance, it ended with a swim move on a hard line drive so strange that you could basically envision Gleyber Torres in the split-second it took for the baseball to reach the outfield.
With one late-game “Olé!” the star shortstop (for now) had the entire state of Georgia celebrating and the entire tri-state area reconciling Correa’s past transgressions with his ability to contribute in the future.
Take a look at this game-ending non-stab, and tell us it would look out of place in the Bronx right now.
Do the Yankees want to take a chance on Dodgers SS Corey Seager’s defense?
Add in fellow free agent Chris Taylor’s poor base running, and the available Dodgers’ Yankees auditions seem to be going swimmingly.
According to the advanced metrics, Seager has certainly rebounded from his abysmal 2016 total of -16 OAA (outs above average), but his 2021 campaign has been his worst in many years in terms of that metric (back down to -6 at shortstop) and lateral quickness (-2 when reaching towards third, -1 when breaking towards first). It would seem the 27-year-old Seager is regressing more swiftly than even his most ardent defenders expected.
Of course, metrics can only tell you what to expect and what the larger picture looks like. They can prepare you for the moment, but they can’t give you the full breadth of what it looks like when a hard liner is bearing down on Seager in the most important game, and it’s simply…missed.
In case you thought this was a one-play-based reactionary take, just snag a gander at this prediction from early May, back when the “Torres at shortstop” experiment was still technically ongoing.
Seager is a well above-average offensive player. Nothing changes that, unless the aging curve hits a little too swiftly (and doesn’t that often seem to be the case for Yankees free agents?).
Sunday night’s game-ender opened our eyes to a defensive issue that’s long been present, though, and perhaps shouldn’t be so seamlessly swept under the rug under the guise of a forthcoming position change nobody’s asked for yet.
If you’re signing a long-term shortstop, it might not be Corey Seager. Maybe not in the short-term, either. That’s worrisome.