PHOENIX — Corey Seager etched his name alongside three Hall of Famers, hitting 1,270 feet of home runs and getting a breakthrough single that lifted the Texas Rangers to their first World Series title.
Seager joined Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Reggie Jackson as the only two-time World Series Most Valuable Players with his trio of two-run homers against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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 homer late in Game 1.
Exactly what Texas hoped for when it offered him $325 million to sign ahead of the 2022 season.
Seager ended Zac Gallen’s no-hit bid with a single through a hole in a shifted infield leading off the seventh inning and scored his team’s first run on Mitch Garver’s single as the Rangers won 5-0 to take the World Series in five games.
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 Los Angeles 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 Wednesday afternoon.
“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 Jackson had 18 homers and 48 RBIs in 78 games.
“Obviously that’s pretty special to be compared to a guy like that,” Seager said.
Seager sent Paul Sewald’s first-pitch fastball 418 feet into the right-field seats to tie Friday’s opener in the ninth inning, 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, is publicly undemonstrative. Not so in the confines of the clubhouse.
“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,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “He wants everybody to play the same way, too. And he’ll say something if that’s not the case.”