How can you sell him short?

Sea­ger sparkles, but team­mates still get more at­ten­tion.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - DY­LAN HER­NAN­DEZ NEW YORK — A rel­a­tively large crowd of re­porters started gath­er­ing around Corey Sea­ger’s locker. Sea­ger smiled wearily.

Iron­i­cally, we had been talk­ing about how he had man­aged to main­tain a low pro­file this sea­son. Now, he was about to have to speak into a col­lec­tion of tele­vi­sion cam­eras and voice record­ing de­vices.

“You’re cor­nered,” I in­formed him of the ob­vi­ous. Sea­ger smiled again. “I know,” he said. “There’s no es­cap­ing now.”

I jok­ingly apol­o­gized for stop­ping him at his locker, which made it pos­si­ble for him to be trapped.

“It’s OK,” he said.

And it was OK. A tele­vi­sion re­porter asked him about new team­mate Yu Darvish and Sea­ger replied, “I think ev­ery­body’s re­ally ex­cited. I’ve seen him throw a few times, see­ing my brother face him. It’s ob­vi­ously elite stuff.”

He went on po­litely field­ing ques­tions like this for the next few min­utes, then qui­etly slipped out of the room.

Sea­ger doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily avoid the spot­light, but he doesn’t in­vite it ei­ther. It has re­sulted in the All-Star short­stop do­ing the un­think­able: hav­ing a spec­tac­u­lar sea­son that some­how has gone un­no­ticed in a mar­ket the size of Los An­ge­les.

“Chase 2.0,” Man­ager Dave Roberts called Sea­ger, a ref­er­ence to the team’s soft-spo­ken vet­eran Chase Ut­ley.

Cody Bellinger has made head­lines with his prodi­gious power, Justin Turner has be­come the peo­ple’s cham­pion, but it’s Sea­ger who re­mains the team’s best po­si­tion player. He continues to bat sec­ond in the order — “ac­cord­ing to my com­puter, the most im­por­tant spot in the lineup,” half-joked gen­eral man­ager Farhan Zaidi.

Sea­ger blasted a two-run home run in the ninth in­ning Satur­day to blow open the game at Citi Field, a 7-4 vic­tory over the New York Mets. The home run was his 19th of the sea­son. He is bat­ting .306 with 55 runs bat­ted in while play­ing a pre­mium po­si­tion.

He en­tered the week­end fourth in the NL in Fan­graphs’ ver­sion of wins above re­place­ment and sixth in Base­ball Ref­er­ence’s. The only NL po­si­tion play­ers who rank ahead of Sea­ger in both Fan­graphs’ and Base­ball Ref­er­ence’s ver­sions of WAR are Paul Gold­schmidt of the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs and An­thony Ren­don of the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als.

“Of­fen­sively, you look up, he’s hit­ting .300, he’s hit­ting for power, he’s get­ting on base,” Zaidi said.

More than he did last year. His on-base per­cent­age is .397, up from .365 last year, the byprod­uct of a sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved walk rate. He’s walk­ing in 12.6% of his plate ap­pear­ances, com­pared to 7.9% last year, when he fin­ished third in NL MVP vot­ing.

“Corey has evolved,” Roberts said. “He’s un­der­stand­ing more the cat-and­mouse of how peo­ple are pitch­ing him. You see pitch­ers going to sec­on­daries a lot more with Corey. He’s re­ally un­der­stand­ing sit­ting on pitches and re­ally con­duct­ing an at-bat and hunt­ing for cer­tain pitches. Be­cause of his me­chan­ics, he can cover a lot of pitches and a lot of lo­ca­tions. But his abil­ity to now hunt spe­cific pitches or cer­tain zones is going to make him an even bet­ter player.”

Or, as Zaidi said, Sea­ger is “se­lec­tively ag­gres­sive.”

“There are sit­u­a­tions where he’ll go af­ter a first pitch,” Zaidi ex­plained. “There are also times when he will grind out a 10-plus-pitch at-bat, take the big walk and pass the ba­ton to J.T. and Bellinger. The ver­sa­til­ity there is what keeps op­pos­ing pitch­ers guess­ing. His abil­ity to do both, I think, makes him a re­ally tough hit­ter.”

Sea­ger re­mains a steady short­stop. If he lacks the ath­leti­cism of some who play his po­si­tion, he com­pen­sates by plac­ing him­self in the right place at the right time.

“Corey is as in-tune a young player as I’ve ever seen,” Roberts said. “He’s in tune with pitch se­quences and know­ing the cov­er­ages. There have been times when he’s called the right cov­er­ages that have kept ball in the in­field and we’ve turned dou­ble plays.”

That most of this is un­no­ticed doesn’t bother him.

“I like be­ing to my­self, do­ing my thing, get­ting ready,” said Sea­ger, who ac­knowl­edged he has fol­lowed Ut­ley’s lead.

If his team­mates are the ones who are the sub­ject of at­ten­tion, great.

“There’s been a lot of guys who de­serve the at­ten­tion, de­serve the ar­ti­cles, the ques­tions,” Sea­ger said. “More power to them. It’s what’s mak­ing us good. No way to com­plain about that one.”

The Dodgers are win­ning. Sea­ger is play­ing and play­ing well. The other play­ers are do­ing the talk­ing.

“Per­fect” for Sea­ger, Turner said.

“I think him and Chase are very sim­i­lar in their de­meanor on the field and around the club­house,” Turner said. “It’s very quiet and se­ri­ous. Sea­ger will smile and laugh a lit­tle bit more than Chase does, but I think he en­joys the quiet, un­der-the-radar rep that he gets.”

Sea­ger has al­ways been cor­dial and co­op­er­a­tive with the me­dia, but spends lit­tle time in the parts of the locker room that are ac­ces­si­ble to re­porters com­pared to, say, Bellinger.

“Corey is ob­vi­ously much more con­ser­va­tive and kind of stays to him­self more, where Cody is more the kid in the candy store,” Roberts said. “Corey’s kind of an old soul. He’s old school. He just wants to play base­ball. Cody lets me grab his face and shake it. I wouldn’t do that with Corey.”

But Sea­ger continues to be rec­og­nized by the peo­ple in the know. He made his sec­ond All-Star game this year be­cause he was voted in by the play­ers. And be­fore the game Satur­day, Sea­ger re­ceived a visit in the du­gout. Sea­ger spent a few min­utes speak­ing to the man be­fore shak­ing his hand and tak­ing the field for pregame warmups.

The vis­i­tor? Alex Ro­driguez.

Julie Jacobson As­so­ci­ated Press

COREY SEA­GER (5) HEADS for the du­gout af­ter his long two-run home run in the ninth in­ning gave the Dodgers a 7-3 lead over the Mets. He has 19 homers.

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