SI: Rangers' Corey Seager Will Benefit Most from MLB Rule Change on Infield Shifts

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVNovember 22, 2022

Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager runs to cover third base during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Colorado Rockies Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager is viewed as the player who could benefit the most from MLB's ban on infield shifts beginning in 2023.

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated provided detailed analysis of the upcoming change Monday, noting no hitter in the league had more hard-hit ground-ball outs into the shift (71) than the Rangers infielder last season.

Seager faced a shift 93 percent of the time in 2022, a jump of 16 percentage points from 2021, and his .176 batting average on hard-hit grounders was a career-low mark, per Verducci.

The analysis also showed he was one of the most unlucky players when it came to line drives that turned into outs because of the shift along with the Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber.

Seager signed a 10-year, $325 million contract with the Rangers last December after spending the first seven seasons of his MLB career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 28-year-old North Carolina native hit a career-high 33 home runs, but his OPS dropped to .772, his worst full-season mark since reaching the majors in 2015. His OPS across his final two years in L.A. was .926.

He was a 4.5-win player (via FanGraphs) despite the significant impact of the shift on his ability to get on base.

The ban on the shift creates a lot of intrigue about what level of production Seager can provide. The new rule mandates two infielders on each side of second base and forces the infielders to line up on the infield dirt.

The three-time All-Star could end up in the MVP conversation if his power and defensive numbers remain strong to pair with a likely increase in his batting average and on-base percentage.

That's great news for the Rangers, who own a fearsome top half of the order with Seager, Marcus Semien, Nathaniel Lowe, Adolis García and Jonah Heim.

The rest of the lineup could use upgrades before the 2023 campaign gets underway, though.