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Baseball Daily Dose

Deeper Dive: Corey Seager to the Rangers

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: January 13, 2022, 2:04 pm ET

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We’re still in the midst of a lockout which doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon, so it’s probably going to be a while before we know which free agent will wind up with the biggest contract this winter. The leader in the clubhouse to this point is Corey Seager, and it’s not close.

Early last month, shortly after they inked Marcus Semien to a seven-year, $175 million contract, the Rangers doubled up on middle infielders by signing Seager to a whopping 10-year, $325 million pact. The total value of the deal is tied with Giancarlo Stanton for the sixth-largest in baseball history.

Seager reached free agency at the ripe age of 27, which no doubt is a big reason why the Rangers were willing to stomach a 10-year contract. Of course, the shortstop is also coming off one of his better seasons, albeit one during which he missed significant time due to injury. In 95 games and 409 plate appearances, Seager posted a .306/.394/.521 batting line with 16 home runs and 57 RBI.

Unfortunately, “missed significant time due to injury” is something we’ve written about Seager often. A fractured right hand was the culprit last season, forcing the shortstop to the shelf for 11 weeks from mid-May to late July. The good news is that he showed absolutely no ill effects from the ailment, putting up a .335/.417/.592 batting line with 12 of his 16 dingers over his final 240 plate appearances.

Seager also missed most of the 2018 season following Tommy John surgery after dealing with elbow issues in 2017, and he spent time on the injured list with a strained hamstring in 2019, too. He hasn’t reached 140 games played or 600 plate appearances since 2017.

The good news is that when Seager has been on the field, he’s mashed. Dating back to the beginning of the 2020 season, among players with at least 500 plate appearances, Seager ranks 10th in baseball with a .926 OPS. He’s hit .306/.381/.545 across 641 plate appearances during that span.

Seager’s Statcast data over that time has been equally impressive. After finishing in the 97th percentile in exit velocity, the 98th percentile in hard-hit rate and 95th percentile in barrel rate in 2020, he came in in the 80th percentile, 89th percentile and 81st percentile in those respective categories in 2021.

Seager is also an elite contact hitter, particularly for a guy who consistently punishes the ball. His career strikeout rate is just 18.5 percent, and last year it came in at 16.1 percent to go along with a career-high 11.7 percent walk rate. When you don’t strike out and you hit the ball hard, you’re a virtual shoo-in to hit for a great average. There aren’t many better bets for that category than Seager.

While Dodger Stadium has the reputation of a pitcher’s park, it’s actually been very kind for the home run ball in recent years, ranking third in baseball for home runs per Baseball Savant’s Park Factors. It does drop to a slightly less advantageous seventh for left-handed batters.

Globe Life Field, on the other hand, comes in at 22nd overall and 16th for home runs since its inception in 2020. It has played more neutral for left-handed hitters, which is good news for Seager. Still, it’s a downgrade in ballpark for the 27-year-old, and the American League West is filled with other pitcher-friendly venues, as well.

There’s also the lineup downgrade, which is massive as Seager goes from one of the best-hitting teams in baseball to one of the worst. In 2021 the Rangers had a wOBA .291, which was dead-last in the game. Seager and Marcus Semien should certainly help that number, but it projects to be a below-average offense.

Seager’s skill set at the plate is going to play anywhere, but it’s hard to dispute that his fantasy stock took a hit with his change of address. However, that seems to be getting baked into his price in early fantasy drafts. Seager is currently the 12th shortstop going off the board in NFBC drafts, directly behind Javier Baez and Jazz Chisholm. It’s a loaded position, but that seems perfectly reasonable, if not a bit of a bargin.

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Quick Hits: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Monday that there are no negotiations currently scheduled between MLB and the MLBPA … Cameron Maybin has announced his retirement from baseball. The 34-year-old batted .254/.323/.374 with 72 home runs and 187 stolen bases across 15 seasons for 10 different teams.

Ryan Boyer

Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for NBC Sports Edge. He can also be found on Twitter.