Rangers slugger Seager thriving in post-shift MLB world

March 9, 2023 GMT
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Texas Rangers' Corey Seager bats during spring training baseball practice Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Texas Rangers' Corey Seager bats during spring training baseball practice Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

PHOENIX (AP) — Analytics say that Corey Seager was one of the hitters most hurt by infield shifts last season.

Now that the defensive tactic has been restricted, the Texas Rangers slugger is having a huge spring training.

The 28-year-old had eight hits in his first 18 spring training at-bats, including three homers and eight RBIs. Teams shifted Seager in about 93% of his plate appearances last season and he finished with a career-low .243 batting average.

Seager signed a $325 million, 10-year in December 2021, but his first year with the Rangers was disappointing. He finished with a career high 33 homers, but Texas lost 94 games despite adding Seager and Marcus Semien.

Here are some more players having a good spring training:

Gerrit Cole, Yankees, RHP: The five-time All-Star looks like he’s ready to have another great season, throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings over his first two starts. He’s struck out 11, walked none and allowed just three hits. The 32-year-old wa 13-8 and 3.50 ERA while leading the major leagues with 257 strikeouts.

Jordan Walker, Cardinals, OF: The 20-year-old prospect is making a push to be on the team’s opening day roster after 12 hits in his first 28 at-bats. He also has three homers, three doubles and a stolen base. Walker’s still-growing 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame have some comparing him to a young Aaron Judge. He hit .306 with 19 homers last season in Double-A.

Max Fried, Braves, LHP: The 29-year-old has pitched five scoreless innings and struck out nine over two starts. He’s been a mainstay in the team’s rotation over the past four seasons with a 52-20 record.

Trey Mancini, Cubs, 1B: The 30-year-old has made a good first impression with the Cubs, with nine hits in his first 16 spring at-bats. Mancini was one of Baltimore’s best players for several seasons before getting traded to Astros last year and he helped Houston win a World Series title. He signed a $14 million, two-year deal during the offseason.

Julio Urías, Dodgers, LHP: Still just 26 years old, he’s given up just one run over 6 2/3 innings in two starts. He led the National League with a 2.16 ERA last season and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

Matt Olson, Braves, 1B: The slugger is in mid-season form with eight hits in his first 15 at-bats, including three homers. Olson had the unenviable task of taking over at first base after franchise icon Freddie Freeman left for the Dodgers in free agency, but responded with a solid season in 2022, finishing with 34 homers and 103 RBIs.

Alec Bohm, Phillies, 3B: The 26-year-old has flashed some power with three homers in his first 21 at-bats. He’s hit just 24 homers in his first 1,126 big league at-bats, but at 6-foot-5 and 218 pounds, it’s fair to expect more homers as he gets older.


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