PHOENIX (AP) — Corey Seager knows the illustrious names he’s next to: Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson.
“I don’t think you can ever fathom that,” he said. “It’s a pretty special group to be part of. ”
Seager joined those three Hall of Famers as a two-time World Series MVP, hitting 1,270 feet of home runs and getting a breakthrough single that lifted the Texas Rangers to their first title with a 5-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 5 on Wednesday night.
“I don’t know what else to say about the man. He’s just incredible,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You appreciate him even more when you get to see him on a daily basis how good this man is, how committed he is to winning.”
Seager hit a trio of two-run homers against Arizona. His flair to punctuate the postseason with big hits has become as much a constant as his restrained on-field demeanor — one that broke briefly after his tying ninth-inning homer late in Game 1.
“That’s what you want to be, right? You want to go out there and compete and that’s it,” Seager said. “It doesn’t have to be flashy. Doesn’t mean you’re not trying. It’s just kind of how I’ve always played.”
Exactly what Texas hoped for when it signed him to a $325 million, 10-year deal to leave the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 2022 season. Rangers general manager Chris Young sold Seager on the vision of reviving a team that lost 102 games and had never won a World Series.
“It was definitely a drawing point for me,” Seager said. “I won in LA. They hadn’t won in 30 years (actually 32) and I saw what it did to a fan base. When I found out they had never won here, that was something that intrigued me, to be able to start at the bottom and try and build something and compete. And to be able to do it, it’s really satisfying.”
Seager ended Zac Gallen’s no-hit bid with a single to left through a hole in a shifted infield leading off the seventh inning and scored his team’s first run on Mitch Garver’s single. He has so tormented the Diamondbacks that manager Torey Lovullo wanted to drive the All-Star shortstop from the opposing dugout when Seager played for the division-rival Dodgers.
“I actually sent Seager a limousine to take him to the airport and bring him to Texas when I heard he was going. I wanted him out of the NL West so bad,” Lovullo said.
“No, of course not,” Lovullo said to laughter. “But I was thinking about it.”
Three years after earning World Series MVP for helping the Dodgers beat Tampa Bay, Seager boosted the Rangers to the first championship in the team’s 63 seasons. He had six RBIs against Arizona, finishing his postseason with a .318 average, six doubles, six homers, 15 walks and 12 RBIs in 17 games.
His career is in Mr. October territory: Seager has 19 homers and 48 RBIs in 78 postseason games, while Jacksom had 18 homers and 48 RBIs in 78 games.
Seager sent Paul Sewald’s first-pitch fastball 418 feet into the the right-field seats to tie Friday’s opener, and Texas went on to win 6-5 on Adolis García’s 11th-inning homer. Seager hit Brandon Pfaadt’s first-pitch changeup 421 feet to right to build a three-run, third-inning lead in Game 3 Monday, and followed with a 431-foot drive to center on a 1-0 Kyle Nelson slider that boosted the Diamondbacks ahead 5-0 in the second inning of Game 4 Tuesday.
“We threw a gutter ball, basically, down the middle,” said Lovullo, who elected not to intentionally walk Seager. “I’ve got to be better at making that decision.”
Seager’s Game 3 drive left the bat at 114.5 mph, the hardest-hit World Series homer since Statcast started tracking in 2015. Seager also made a sliding stop at short and a backhand flip to Semien for a key double play in the eighth inning of Game 3.
“I wish I could do the things he can do,” second baseman Marcus Semien said. “I’m in the cage. I’m on the field. I’m doing all this stuff just to be ready to compete. Corey, he gets his position right, and he sees the ball right, and his swing is on point, watch out. And when the playoffs start, it’s to another level.”
A four-time All-Star at age 29, Seager is publicly undemonstrative. Not so in the confines of the clubhouse, where he is a regular card player.
“Just a solid person that plays the game right, and that’s playing to win. That’s the only thing on his mind, doing whatever it takes to win that ballgame,” Bochy said. “He wants everybody to play the same way, too. And he’ll say something if that’s not the case.”
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