Corey Seager is one of the keys to the Dodgers offense in 2016, though it is probably wise to temper expectations heading into his first full major league season.
Seager was the Dodgers' best hitter in September once he was called up, hitting .337/.425/.561 with 13 extra-base hits in 27 games. It is unfair to expect that type of production from Seager or any rookie over a full season, but that is obvious. Pitchers will adjust to Seager, and he will need to adjust back, and that game of cat-and-mouse will continue.
Projection systems are bullish on Seager, arguably the top prospect in baseball this season. Marcel projects Seager to hit .294/.365/.478, ZiPS has him hitting .266/.311/.447 in 2016, and Steamer pegs Seager as a .265/.315/.423 hitter this season.
Those numbers seem much more reasonable to expect from Seager this season, and that would be just fine. Dodgers shortstops as a whole in 2015 — Jimmy Rollins started 128 times at short, Seager made 21 starts at the position, Kiké Hernandez started 11 times, and one start each for Justin Turner and Darwin Barney — hit just .246/.317/.399, so there is room for improvement.
But this is less about what to expect from Seager overall in 2016, and more about one specific area where even a relatively normal expected output from Seager could result in a spot in the franchise record book.
For more than a century, dating back to 1914, there have been only been six seasons in which a Dodgers player hit at least 30 doubles as a shortstop. The highest is 35 doubles by Pee Wee Reese in 1954. The only one of the six younger than 28 was Cesar Izturis, who hit 32 doubles in 2004 at age 24.
Seager turns 22 on April 27.
Lowering the bar a bit, there have only been 14 seasons of 25 or more doubles by a Dodgers shortstop, including five by Reese, four years by Bill Russell and a pair by Rafael Furcal.
Since moving into Dodger Stadium in 1962, Dodgers shortstops have hit 1,235 doubles (just under 23 per season), ranking 21st in baseball during that span. Problem is, there were only 20 teams in MLB in 1962. Even the Expos/Nationals have more doubles from their shortstops than the Dodgers, and they didn't start as a franchise until 1969.
Dodgers shortstops have only five more doubles than the Padres since 1962, and San Diego didn't exist as a major league city until seven years later, also in 1969. The point is, Dodgers shortstops rarely hit doubles. But that could change very soon.
Seager hit 50 doubles between Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Chattanooga in 2014, then tallied 37 more between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2015. He followed that with eight doubles in the majors, a pace of 43 two-baggers over a full season.
Again, it probably isn't reasonable to expect 40 or more doubles from Seager in 2016, but 25 sure seems doable, with 30 doubles looming as a very attainable goal. That alone would be notable as a Dodgers shortstop.
For what it's worth, ZiPS has Seager hitting 38 doubles in 2016, Steamer projects 31, and Marcel predicts only 14 doubles, but in 257 plate appearances, less than half the playing time of the other two projection systems.
Just for fun, should Seager go off in 2016, the Dodgers rookie record holder for doubles in a season, from any position, is Johnny Frederick, who hit 52 doubles in 1929. That also stands as the major league record for doubles by a rookie. No pressure or anything, kid.