Corey Seager hits rare double as World Series and LCS MVP

Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Corey Seager hits a RBI-single against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning in Game 5 of the baseball World Series Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Corey Seager hit a rare October double, becoming Most Valuable Player of the World Series after earning the honor for the League Championship Series.

Just as Orel Hershiser did when the Los Angeles Dodgers won their previous World Series title in 1988.

Seager batted .400 with two homers, five RBIs and six walks against the Tampa Bay Rays, including a sixth-inning grounder that allowed Mookie Betts to speed home from third base with the go-ahead run Tuesday night in Game 6. The star shortstop jumped into the arms of second baseman Kiké Hernández after Julio Urías struck out Willy Adames to end a 3-1 victory that clinched the championship.

“To be able to win and to be able to do it with a team like this, it means everything,” Seager said.

Especially after losing Game 7 to Houston three years ago and missing the entire 2018 postseason while injured.

“It hurt, obviously,” he said. “This core has been around for a couple of years now, and to know what it feels like to lose and to be able to rebuild and come back and stay focused and to be able to finish it, it’s special.”

Seager hit .310 with five homers and 11 RBIs in the seven-game win over Atlanta in the NL Championship Series, including three homers as the Dodgers fought off elimination in Games 5 and 6. He drove in runs in five consecutive plate appearances, starting with his last two at-bats in Game 2, matching a feat that had been accomplished only by Houston’s Carlos Beltrán in 2004.

The previous player to be selected MVP of both a League Championship Series and the World Series in the same year was San Francisco pitcher Madison Bumgarner in 2014. Only eight players have done it — all National Leaguers.

Seager finished the postseason batting .328 (22 for 67) with eight homers, 20 RBIs and 11 walks. The others to win LCS and World Series MVP in one year were Pittsburgh’s Willie Stargell (1979), St. Louis’ Darrell Porter (1982), Hershiser, the Marlins’ Livan Hernandez (2003), Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels (2008), the Cardinals’ David Freese (2011) and Bumgarner.

“Does everything right,” teammate Mookie Betts said about Seager. “He was huge for us all year and was just steady the whole time, constantly getting two, three, four hits.”

Seager was the 18th overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft and just 21 when he debuted in September 2015. He became a unanimous pick for 2016 NL Rookie of the Year after hitting .308 with 26 homers and 72 RBIs, then made his second straight All-Star team in 2017, when he batted .295 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs.

Seager missed the 2017 NL Championship Series because of a back injury, then returned for the World Series against Houston and hit .222 (6 for 27) with four RBIs. He had a two-run homer off Justin Verlander in the Dodgers’ 5-3 loss in Game 3 and was 1 for 4 with the game-ending grounder against Charlie Morton in the 5-1 defeat in Game 7.

Seager then missed the entire 2018 postseason when he did not play after April 29 due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow that required Tommy John surgery. He also underwent left hip surgery.

When he returned for 2019, he was slowed by a strained left hamstring that sidelined him from mid-June until mid-July but still tied for the National League lead with 44 doubles. Then he hit a team-best .307 with 15 homers and 41 RBIs in this pandemic-shortened season.

The highlight of the regular season came Aug. 17, when he played against his brother, Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager, for the first time in the majors and they became the first brothers to homer in the same game since San Diego’s César Crespo and San Francisco’s Felipe Crespo on June 7, 2001.

As the final outs ticked by until the title, Seager finally got butterflies.

“The nerves definitely started creeping in,” he said. “But you’ve got to shut them out. You got to finish the job. We know more than anybody that the game is not over until you make 27 outs. So to be able to finally accomplish that and get the last out and win the last game is surreal. And it’s unbelievable.”

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