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Corey Seager: The next Troy Tulowitzki?

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Ray profiles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager and thinks he will be in the conversation for the #1 fantasy shortstop this time next season.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers drafted shortstop Corey Seager with the 18th overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, and I have to think that many of the 17 teams that picked ahead of the Dodgers are questioning their reasoning for passing on Seager. The following players were drafted ahead of Seager, so these teams may have an argument for not selecting him: Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, Addison Russell, and Lucas Giolito. Yet, Seager is currently the #1 prospect in the game, ahead of both Buxton and Giolito.

Seager cruised through the minor leagues and made it to the big leagues for the Dodgers playoff run, getting a call up in early September and taking the starting job from veteran Jimmy Rollins. Many, including myself, wondered why he wasn't called up sooner, and I wonder if Rollins wasn't injured if Seager would have even been called up or not.

After hitting .278-.332-.451 with 13 home runs, 64 runs scored, 61 RBI and 3 stolen bases in 464 plate appearances in Triple A, Seager tore up major league pitching in September, hitting .337-.425-.561 with 4 home runs, 17 runs scored, 17 RBI and 2 stolen bases in just 113 plate appearances. He showed an excellent eye at the plate, striking out in 17% of his plate appearances, with a 12.4% walk rate. He had no trouble squaring up major league pitching, as his hard hit rate was 45% and his HR/FB% was 19%. Small sample sizes aside, Seager showed that he belonged in the big leagues, and that he could perform as well.

Seager was rated the #1 prospect in the game by ESPN's Keith Law and he praised his eye at the plate in his scouting report:

Seager's pitch recognition is advanced way beyond his years, and you'll see him make adjustments within at-bats that even veterans don't make. He's better than most players his age at adjusting to a pitch he didn't expect and does very well covering the outer half without creating a hole on the inner third.

What can we expect from Seager in 2016? Below I have prepared a table containing projections from the following projection systems available:

ZiPS

Steamer

Fangraphs Fan projections

Ron Shandler Baseball Forecaster

2016 Projections: Corey Seager

Corey Seager

PA

Runs

HR

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

ZiPS

643

80

20

87

5

0.266

0.311

0.447

Steamer

574

64

16

61

5

0.265

0.315

0.423

Fans

630

76

18

79

9

0.282

0.351

0.455

Ron Shandler Baseball Forecaster

588

84

19

78

5

0.284

0.338

0.480

ZiPS is the most optimistic of the projection systems, as it projects Seager to hit .266 with 20 home runs, 80 runs scored, 87 RBI and 5 stolen bases this season, which is pretty lofty for a rookie hitter. Ron Shandler projects him to hit for a higher slugging percentage, but that isn't translating into more home runs. I can see him hitting for a slightly higher batting average than what ZiPS is projecting, maybe in the .275-.280 range, with 20-25 home runs, with 8-10 stolen bases, but I think their run and RBI estimates are on target.

It remains to be seen where Seager will hit in manager Dave Robert's lineup, but I think he will start the season hitting in the two spot, and could easily finish the season hitting in the three spot in the Dodgers lineup. It may take a few months, but Seager will prove to be the Dodgers best player in 2016, yet Yasiel Puig may have something to say about that.

As my headline states, I think Seager could be the second coming of Troy Tulowitzki. In his rookie season in 2007, Tulo hit .291 with 24 home runs, 104 runs scored, 99 RBI and 7 stolen bases in 682 plate appearances, but had the benefit of playing half of his games in the high run scoring environment that is Coors Field. I can see Seager having a few 30 home run seasons as he gains more experience at the big league level, matching Tulowitzki's power, with a few seasons where he hits .290-.300. To hit 30+ home runs, Seager is going to have more than 27% of his batted balls end up in the air.

I think this time next season, we will be arguing whether Carlos Correa or Corey Seager is the best fantasy shortstop. Yes, I am pretty optimistic with Seager, but he has the talent to be one of the best at the position real soon.

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