‘Locked-in’ Corey Seager swinging World Series one swing at a time

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PHOENIX — Corey Seager appeared underwhelmed, once again, by his own greatness.

In the top of the third inning Monday night, Seager connected flush with a first-pitch Brandon Pfaadt changeup. As the baseball jetted toward the right field seats at 114.5 miles per hour, Seager calmly dismounted his bat and began that familiar jog around the bases.

Another day, another timely postseason homer for the Rangers’ franchise shortstop.

The visiting dugout erupted accordingly; high-fives, laughs, clapping, joyous yelps, players slamming palms onto the dugout railing in celebration. Pfaadt wandered aimlessly around the mound as Seager touched ’em all, cheeks red, eyes staring out into nothing. Chase Field’s sold-out crowd dimmed to a whispered hum, silenced by a no-doubter.

But the man who created the moment, who took the definitive swing in Texas’ 3-1 victory over Arizona in Game 3 of the World Series, journeyed around the sacks stoic, statuesque. At no point in the moments after his frozen rope did the sinewy slugger flash a smile, a grin, or any other visible signs of excitement.

“The biggest takeaway for me is how calm and present he is,” Rangers’ star rookie Evan Carter said of Seager afterward. “He is where his feet are. I really envy that.”

Seager epitomizes the phrase, “act like you’ve been there before,” because, well, he has. 

His laser beam long ball in Game 3 — the hardest hit World Series homer in the Statcast era — was the 18th of his storied postseason career. Derek Jeter is the only shortstop with more. Nobody has had more playoff homers since the start of 2020, the year Seager captured National League Championship Series and World Series MVP awards during the Dodgers’ title run. It’s possible he’ll add another World Series MVP to his mantle if the Rangers capture two more wins.

Oh, and he’s still not even 30 years old.

“I’ve never seen anybody this locked in,” Rangers catcher Austin Hedges told FOX Sports.

Corey Seager crushes two-run HR to give Texas 3-0 lead vs. Arizona

Corey Seager crushes two-run HR to give Texas 3-0 lead vs. Arizona

But what makes Seager unique, besides his even-keeled demeanor, is the unwavering commitment to his approach. His unfettered aggression is the bedrock, the through line, the cornerstone; the man is up there to swing. 

Texas’ franchise star has seen 91 pitches in the strike zone this postseason. He has swung a whopping 76 times. That 83.5% in-zone swing rate would have been the highest in baseball this year, topping Seager’s league-leading rate of 80.3% during the regular season. And that hack-happy strategy only intensifies early in counts. Seager has seen 27 first pitches within the strike zone this October. He has swung at 23 of those.

His epic ninth-inning game-tying smash in the series opener was on a first-pitch fastball. Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald was trying to locate his heater above the zone. He missed his spot. Seager delivered a highlight for the ages. 

“It was a cool moment, for sure,” Seager told reporters in the aftermath of the biggest swing in Rangers franchise history.

But a game plan is only as good as its execution. 

Corey Seager joins Tom Verducci to discuss his Game 3 performance

Corey Seager joins Tom Verducci to discuss his Game 3 performance

The good folks employed by the D-backs know Seager’s tendencies. So did the Astros and the Orioles and the Rays and all the other clubs that surrendered taters to Seager this season.

But when Seager is this locked in, you have to execute. In their first matchup, Pfaadt did just that, coaxing his foe into a first-pitch groundout on a perfectly located sinker on the outer half in the first inning. But perfection is a ghost, and Seager didn’t blink when Pfaadt yanked a changeup a full foot from where it was supposed to be.

“Just a good pitch,” Seager replied, when asked whether he was sitting on a changeup. “Fortunately I got it, and fortunately I put a good swing on it.”

The Rangers’ $325 million dollar man contributed defensively on Monday night, as well, with a shimmering stop and flip on a crucial inning-ending double play in the eighth that fizzled out a threatening Arizona rally. After the contest, Seager was predictably reserved, opting instead to shower his teammates in glory.

“Tremendous job on Marcus [Semien]’s’ part,” Seager said. “Especially with that transfer in the turn, what he did, really made that play.”

At times, Seager’s purposeful dullness borders on the absurd. But those who know him well swear that beneath the purposefully boring exterior lies a genuinely charismatic fellow. It’s just that his obsession with the journey and his passion for the process of hitting, supersedes any desire to revel in the limelight or reveal any iota of spice. He genuinely does not care.

Corey Seager likes winning and hitting.

And right now, he’s doing a lot of both.

Jake Mintz, the louder half of @CespedesBBQ is a baseball writer for FOX Sports. He played college baseball, poorly at first, then very well, very briefly. Jake lives in New York City where he coaches Little League and rides his bike, sometimes at the same time. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Mintz.

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