Originally written for and published on the Perfect Lineup on Oct. 25, 2017
It is true that many were worried that the loss of the Los Angeles Dodgers star starting shortstop, Corey Seager, for the entirety of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs might be a problem. It didn’t turn out to be one at all.
Seager missed the entire NLCS due to a back injury he suffered during the Los Angeles Dodgers three-game sweep over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Division Series. He injured it while sliding in the third, decisive game of the series.
Rather than risk Seager being ineligible for the World Series (which he would have been had he played in the NLCS and then been put on the disabled list because of the injury) the Dodgers simply took him off the roster.
Obviously, it appeared that the Dodgers were taking a bit hit, especially going up against the reigning World Champs.
Seager hit .295/.375/.479 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI in 2017 and, is one of the better defensive shortstops in the league. During the NLDS Seager hit .273/.467/.455 with a triple, a stolen base, two RBI, four walks and three strikeouts in 15 plate appearances.
His replacements, utility-man Enrique Hernandez and Charlie Culberson, left a lot to be desired compared to Seager. Still, it was a smart move by the Dodgers to give Seager time to heal, get treatment and cheer on his teammates from home in Los Angeles. Of course at the time, this didn’t appear to be the best decision by the team but it was the smartest one to make.
Culberson spent most of the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City but batted .455 over the course of what ended up being a five game series, in which the Dodgers defeated the Cubs four games to one.
Enrique (aka Kike) Hernandez had one of the greatest nights in postseason history in Game 5, hitting three home runs, one of which was a grand slam. He became just the tenth player in MLB history to have a three-homer game in the postseason and the second to do it this season. Hernandez also set a record for collecting the most RBI in a LCS game with seven.
Now the Dodgers are on baseball’s biggest stage and Seager is back on the roster for the 2017 World Series. Both Hernandez and Culberson earned their spots to remain on the postseason roster. So instead, Seager took the place of veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson.
Granderson had only a single hit in 15 at-bats over both the NLDS and NLCS. He also racked up eight strikeouts, so it seems the Dodgers’ decision to put Seager back on the roster will likely be the right one, despite his still-injured back and sore right elbow that has been bothering the young shortstop since late August.
Catcher and third baseman Kyle Farmer was also left off of the World Series roster in order to make room for Seager, Hernandez and Culberson.
Putting Seager on the roster does leave open the potential for him to re-injure his back or put further pressure on his ailing elbow, but it is a decision that the Dodgers needed to make.
They are now on baseball’s biggest stage with the game’s ultimate reward on the line. They need to have their best men on the field.
Seager is most definitely one of those men and both Hernandez and Culberson have proven that they deserve to be there as well.
When the decision was made, it was – and to an extent – still is a gamble on Seager’s ability to perform with his nagging injuries, but if Game 1 Tuesday night was any indication, keeping Seager along with Culberson and Hernandez was the right way to go.
Seager went 2-for-3 at the plate in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Game 1 win over the Houston Astros and Hernandez got a hit in three plate appearances.
Culberson came off the bench to pinch hit for pitcher Brandon Morrow in the bottom of the eighth inning. Even though he ended up striking out, he is still essential to the team in the event Seager were to have to give in to one of his injuries. Besides, he has proven he can hit in the postseason. One strikeout in one at-bat off the bat doesn’t really mean much.
There is talk that in order to do their best to keep Seager in the game he will likely serve as the team’s designated hitter during the games played in Houston, whether he wants more time in the field or not.
Regardless of what he wants, the Dodgers need to protect Seager. He is one of their greatest assets and playing too much at shortstop could ultimately make his sore elbow even worse.
Whether or not he is 100 percent, having Seager on the roster should inevitably have an effect on the outcome of this World Series.
If he continues to play well and stays strong, there is little doubt that he will have an impactive moment at some point during this series. If Seager re-injures his back or further injures his elbow, the Dodgers might end up worse off than they would with him healthy.
However, while the Dodgers have proven that they can win without Seager, they haven’t proven they can win without him against the Houston Astros.
No matter the outcome of the 2017 World Series, Seager’s presence or lack thereof will have an important impact on who takes home the 2017 World Championship trophy.