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Already in rare air, can Seager soar higher?

With elbow calm after offseason rehab, Dodgers shortstop focuses on keeping things simple
MLB.com @kengurnick

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The only first-round Draft picks to become Rookies of the Year and then in their first two seasons All-Stars and Silver Slugger winners are Mike Trout and Corey Seager.

Since 1980, when the Silver Slugger debuted, there have been more than 1,500 first-round picks. There have been 76 Rookies of the Year, 56 of them position players. Six first-round picks who became Rookies of the Year also were All-Stars their first two seasons. But only two of those were the best offensive player at their position the first two seasons.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The only first-round Draft picks to become Rookies of the Year and then in their first two seasons All-Stars and Silver Slugger winners are Mike Trout and Corey Seager.

Since 1980, when the Silver Slugger debuted, there have been more than 1,500 first-round picks. There have been 76 Rookies of the Year, 56 of them position players. Six first-round picks who became Rookies of the Year also were All-Stars their first two seasons. But only two of those were the best offensive player at their position the first two seasons.

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In that time, nobody has done as much, with so much expected, as Seager and Trout. They've flown under nobody's radar. They've been in the spotlight even before they signed, throughout their Minor League training, leading up to their heralded callups, unfazed by rookie inexperience, oblivious to the sophomore jinx.

On a team with the best pitcher in baseball, Seager is the present and the future of the Dodgers and he won't turn 24 for another month. His are must-see at-bats, even with the budding superstardom of Cody Bellinger, especially now that the refined bat of Justin Turner is on the sidelines.

Seager is almost effortless in the field, a lanky body for a shortstop with surprising range factor considering below-average foot speed. In the FanGraphs "Range Runs" metric, which projects how many runs a player is worth above or below average because of his range, Seager ranked fifth of 31 shortstops in 2016 and fourth of 36 in 2017 (minimum 500 innings).

The key to Seager's success, despite the high bar of expectations?

"Just don't get too high or too low," he said. "Just try to be yourself. Kind of got ingrained in me as a child. Dad was never a 'pull the ball.' It was 'hit the other way, where it gets thrown, hit it that way, don't get emotional, just go about your business and be in the background.' That's what I've always tried to do. He was really big on small moves, simple, know where you need to be. I've tried to take that."

This spring, Seager's game has shared the focus with Seager's right arm, more specifically the elbow, which started barking last summer and was a rumored candidate for offseason Tommy John repair.

Instead, Seager chose rehab. He took no magical injections and said the surprising component of his exercise program wasn't the elbow at all, but the shoulder.

"A lotta, lotta, lotta shoulder stuff," he said. "Apparently, if the shoulder is not stable, the elbow and forearm take the brunt of slowing down the arm. I never really thought of that. I did typical shoulder maintenance, but it was never a priority. That was kind of interesting to me. The first three weeks of rehab was pure shoulder, and I'm looking at them, like, 'That's not where the problem is.' But it turns out they were right, I guess."

Seager still really hasn't been tested with throws from deep in the hole or relays from outfielders to the plate. But so far, he said, the pain he had with every throw late in the season is gone.

"I'm relieved," he said. "I have to stay on top of it, but I really don't want to think about it. I don't want to think, 'In June, is it going to hurt?' Just let each day happen."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Corey Seager