Texas Rangers: MLB rule changes are great news for Corey Seager

(Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images) /

Corey Seager’s Texas Rangers debut is a story of two halves. After the Rangers sent $500 Million to both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager expectations were high, not only for the club but for the players as well. Seager lit it up in the 1st half with 22 HR, 52 RBI, and 124 wRC+.

His 2nd half left a lot to be desired with a significant drop in all his numbers. This includes HR (11), AVG (.235), and walks (22). This likely has something to do with injuries sustained towards the end of the season where he had both a leg injury in late August and an injury to his forearm September 28th.

He hit .202 and was only able to muster a wRC+ of 75, meaning he was 25% worse than league average in the months of September and October. But beyond injury I find there to be a greater culprit to his career low batting average (.245)

Corey Seager could not escape the shift in 2022 with the Texas Rangers.

Seager’s numbers were truly suppressed last year by the shift. Of all qualified hitters, Seager faced the shift in the second most at-bats of anyone in the league (454), just behind his teammate Marcus Semien. Here are his stats against the shift:

.242 AVG, 31 RBI, 47 wRC+

His BABIP against/not against the shift: .235/.343

Of hitters with a minimum of 250 PAs against the shift, Seager was 10th worst in AVG and 8th worst in wRC+. He also grounded into the second most double plays (14). Just an ugly line on an otherwise solid year. He was just never able to get around the shift and teams were able to take advantage. Luckily for Corey Seager, the shift can not do much when he’s hitting it into the stands and so he was able to make a real impact in that way.

Fortunately for Seager, on the other side of the 2022 season, there is a season in 2023 which is pure and shiftless. The new requirements for shifting are as follows according to MLB.com:

"“The defensive shift restrictions will require teams to position two infielders on each side of second base when the pitch is released. The infielders must also have both feet within the outer boundary of the infield, and teams will not be permitted to have infielders switch sides unless there is a substitution.”"

I fully expect Seager to bounce back from his career-low on base numbers with the Texas Rangers. The underlying values happen to back this up as well. According to Statcast Seager was 86th percentile in Average Exit Velocity and top 96th percentile in xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA. But his results were vastly different.

These numbers are all indications of Corey Seager tearing the cover off the ball last season. And yet, he was not rewarded for it at all. Seager lost .038 in AVG, .055 in SLG, and .041 in wOBA according to his expected numbers.

These stats are all indicative of quality of contact and what his exit velocities and launch angles throughout the season would normally have garnered. These massive disparities are the result of the amount of times he faced the shift as well as some bad luck.

Yes, bad luck is an inescapable part of baseball, and the results are final for the 2022 season. But these are numbers that we can use to project breakout performances. Baseball tends to level back out to the median. Especially when quality of contact numbers back up these expected stats, it is much easier to find confidence in them.

Seager’s career-highs in both Barrels and HardHit are enough to show that he is ready to come back in a major way this season for the Texas Rangers

Corey Seager Projection: 145 G, 605 PA, .283 AVG, 92 RBI, 26 HR, 1 SB, 100 K, .347 OBP

Seager is ready to absolutely mash against opposing pitchers and he’s able to step up to the plate and not worry about hitting into the shift.

I see him being our best hitter by a solid margin and participating in All-Star festivities come July, perhaps even making his case as the best shortstop in baseball by the end of the season.