First things first let's talk about what the Rookie of the Year award really means. Baseball is very different from basketball and football in the sense that it has a minor league system that everyone goes through before reaching the majors. That means guys from the same draft class become rookies in different years. It also means that some guys get called up midseason while others are starters on opening day. So when we look back at ROY results it should be with a grain of salt. A prime example is this year in the American League. Michael Fulmer won mostly because he was around longer than Gary Sanchez, who only played half a season.
Regardless, the National League Rookie of the Year voting is going to wind up as easily the least controversial award handed out this week. On Monday it was announced Seager won it unanimously, edging out his teammate Kenta Maeda and second half sensation Trea Turner:
Seager is the latest in a long line of Dodgers players to win the the award. He is the 17th Dodger to do so, which means on average they have someone win it every four years. However, he is the first to do it since the 1996, which was the last of a five year stretch where a Dodger won NL ROY every season.
Now let's talk about how good Seager is. Not only did he win ROY but he's listed as a finalist for NL MVP. He probably won't win that but in my opinion he should finish second to Kris Bryant. In 2016 Seager hit .308/.365/.512 with 26 homers and 40 doubles as the best hitter on a team that made it to the NLCS. That type of power for a young, up the middle defender is rare. In the NL this season he ranked second in offensive WAR, fourth in total WAR, seventh in batting average, 10th in slugging, fifth in runs, second in hits, fourth in total bases, and seventh in doubles. He turned 22 in April.
So where does Seager's season rank all time for rookie shortstops? His 26 homers fell four short of Nomar Garciaparra's record and his 137 OPS+ is the best for a rookie shortstop since 1901. For comparison Nomar's 1997 OPS+ was 123. He may have hit more homers but Seager was the better all around hitter.
We are currently living in a golden era of young shortstops that includes Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, and Francisco Lindor but right now Seager is the best of them all thanks to his power potential. When projecting power for young hitters one stat to look at are doubles. Seager finished seventh in the NL in doubles as a rookie. As has been the case with many other players before him it's reasonable to project that those doubles in the gap eventually start leaving the park as he reaches his prime.
Seager's historic rookie season and age have put him in a rare group of baseball players. If you were to start a team today from scratch the first pick would be Mike Trout. There's no real debating that at this point. But who would go second? In my opinion there's about six or seven guys you could make an argument for. The position players on that list would be Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, Mookie Betts, Manny Machado, and now Seager. Add in the fact that he has been a top prospect since being the 18th overall pick in 2012 and it looks like we are witnessing the rise of baseball's next superstar.