Corey Seager, who represents the very best of Major League Baseball’s newest champion, received the 2020 Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet on Tuesday in a unanimous vote after a Fall Classic in which every part of his dazzling game was on display.
His baserunning was aggressive and disruptive, his defense at shortstop superb and, finally and most emphatically, he was spectacular at the plate with a .400 batting average, .556 on-base percentage and 1.256 OPS.
Plus, he scored seven runs, hit a pair of home runs and stole a base. He got his fifth RBI of the World Series in the bottom of the sixth inning on Tuesday when his fielder’s choice grounder got Mookie Betts home from third and gave the Dodgers their first lead in a game they ultimately won, 3-1.
“You know, that's things you think about when you're a kid, man,” Seager said. “You wonder what it's like, you strive to hear that, and to do it with this team and this group, man, it couldn't be any more special.”
Consider some of his most notable accomplishments this month:
• He’s the eighth player -- and the first since Madison Bumgarner in 2014 -- to be named MVP of both the World Series and League Championship Series in the same season. He batted .328 in the Dodgers' 18 postseason games.
• He’s just the sixth shortstop to be World Series MVP, joining a list that includes Edgar Renteria of the Giants (2010), David Eckstein of the Cardinals (2006), Derek Jeter of the Yankees (2000), Alan Trammell of the Tigers (1984) and Bucky Dent of the Yankees (1978).
• His three World Series home runs tie Carlos Correa and Jeter for the most by a shortstop in Major League history. His eight home runs this postseason match Nelson Cruz (2011), Carlos Beltrán (2004) and Barry Bonds (2002) for second-most in a single postseason, trailing only Tampa Bay's Randy Arozarena (10 this year).
• His RBI in Game 6 was his 20th of the 2020 postseason. Only David Freese, who had 21 in 2011 for the Cardinals, had more in a single postseason.
Seager was in the middle of almost everything the Dodgers did. He set a tone in the fifth inning of Game 1 by hustling to third base on a Max Muncy infield grounder and scoring on Will Smith’s single as the Dodgers scored four runs to break open a close contest on their way to an 8-3 victory.
He was hit by a pitch in the third inning of Game 3 and scored on a Muncy homer in a 6-2 victory. Then, after the Dodgers had suffered a late defeat in Game 4, it was a Mookie Betts double and Seager RBI single that got the Dodgers going quickly in the top of the first inning of a 4-2 victory in Game 5.
“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” Seager said. “This team was incredible all throughout the year, all throughout the postseason, all throughout the quarantine. We never stopped. We were ready to go as soon as the bell [sounded]. And once it did, we kept rolling.
“We had an unbelievable postseason on both sides of the field. We ran bases, we pitched, we played defense. We scored runs when we needed to. You can't say enough about what we did this year.”
The Dodgers hadn’t won a World Series since 1988, and while there was plenty of frustration over the long wait, Seager had some personal trials of his own.
He played in just 26 games in 2018, undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and a hip procedure. He was forced to watch as the Dodgers lost the World Series to the Red Sox that season.
He was also part of the Dodgers team that lost Game 7 to the Astros in 2017. But this season the Dodgers were baseball’s best team from the start, rolling up the best record (43-17) and largest run differential (2.27 runs per game). The Dodgers swept the Brewers and Padres in the first two rounds of the postseason before finding themselves trailing the Braves 3-1 in the NLCS. They won three straight to play in their third World Series in four seasons.
“To be able to win and to be able to do it with a team like this, it means everything,” Seager said. “Obviously going through the injuries and everything like that and missing out on a World Series chance, it hurt. But to be able to come back and get back in the same place with this core and to know what it feels like to lose, it's special.”
In the final innings of Game 6, Seager said it was impossible not to think about all that was on the line for him and his teammates and for Dodgers fans around the world.
“You really can’t,” he said. “The nerves definitely start creeping in towards the end of the game. 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, it’s surreal, and it's unbelievable.”