Why World Series MVP Corey Seager and Marcus Semien are the “backbone” of the Rangers

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PHOENIX — Marcus Semien’s journey was long, but his path to jubilation was short — just a few feet, the distance between shortstop and second base on the diamond.

Josh Spurs had just dropped a curveball that picked up Ketel Marte looking for the final walk-off of the World Series, earning the first championship in Texas Rangers history, and Semien knew where he had to go: airborne and into the arms of Corey Seager.

It’s been nearly two years since the two All-Stars took a leap of faith, aided by a $500 million salary from Rangers owner Ray Davis, and decided they could win here, and they wanted to win here. And every day since, the quarterbacks have been everything:

Quiet observers who have seen how a losing culture can be fixed. Mills who insisted on being in the lineup every day they could. And superstars who might attract other talents like them.

Ultimately, they excelled when it mattered most, their rare display of emotion in this age of brilliance signaling something special afoot.

Wednesday night at Chase Field, it was Semien who finally let his guard down, destroying Paul Seewald’s fastball to deliver the final hit, a ninth-run home run, in the Rangers’ 5-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. .

As the ball crossed the left field wall, Semien turned and urged his teammates into the dugout. He let out a roar as he approached second base. He uttered with indescribable joy after crossing home plate.

Minutes later, after Spurs posted his 11thy A scoreless inning in the postseason to end the win, Semin collapsed.

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“I ran straight to Corey, felt some emotions, and shed some tears,” Semien said as Rangers celebrated. “This is my first chance. This is not his first time, so maybe my tears were more than his.”

“But that’s why we play the game.”

Seager was the undoubted winner of his second World Series MVP award, with a game-tying ninth-inning home run in the first game, three homers overall and crucial contributions like the opposite-field dribbler that sealed the win for Zach Gallen. The show hit in the seventh inning led to the first run of the game.

He also won Series MVP honors in 2020, when the Los Angeles Dodgers won it all during the COVID-19 bubble that would become Seager’s future home — Globe Life Field in Arlington.

Meanwhile, Semien spent six years in Oakland, not far from his home in the East Bay, before finding lackluster free agent offers for the 2021 season. The bridge year in Toronto produced 46 home runs and a more lucrative trip to free agency.

Seager was also on the market. The Rangers needed a reboot after opening $1.2 billion Globe Life and miserable teams followed, including 102 losses in 2021.

Cue the light bulb above the head.

“We were excited to be in a new place,” Simien says. “Obviously he won a lot more than I did. I did OK. But we knew it was something new. We were both in our primes.

“Why don’t you get a W and get the ring?”

Seager signed for $325 million over 10 years, and Semien for $175 million over seven years. Pitcher John Gray joined them for four years and $56 million, and the team lost 94 more games.

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But the bridgehead has been established.

“Corey and Marcus — they believed in us when they didn’t have to,” says general manager Chris Young. “I am very happy that they were rewarded.

“It was just the beginning. We couldn’t stop. We were tired of losing. Our players were tired of losing.”

They didn’t stop spending — two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom made $185 million before this year — and they stopped losing. Lost in the Megabucks fog was the $34 million signing of Nathan Eovaldi, who was not always appreciated but was a force in October: he pitched six scoreless innings in Game 5 to earn the win, the first pitcher ever to start and win five postseason games.

Eovaldi knew the foundation was there, with $500 million pledged for the Great Central District.

“Ownership is committed to having these guys here for a long time,” Iovaldi said Thursday of Seager and Semien. “When you have two high-caliber guys like these two leaders, you build a championship organization around them.”

Catcher Jonah Heim added: “They’re the backbone that gets us going. When they go, we go and we’ve known that all year. You see what Corey did in the playoffs, he’s been the best player all year.”

“Semin has been running it the last two days and it has been special to watch.”

Game 5 recap: The Rangers won their first World Series title, coming from behind to finish off the Diamondbacks

Seager will learn later this month whether he will add his first MVP award to his postseason gear, after a 33-homer, 42-double season and a 1.013 OPS despite two stints on the injured list. Semien hit 29 home runs and drove 100 runs off the lead — every day.

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Semien’s preparation is the stuff of legend, as his commitment to keeping the energy up and being available is almost as valuable as his baseball skills. For the third time in the last four seasons, he participated in all 162 matches, and played in the other 161 matches.

With the Rangers’ 90-win season relegating them to the Wild Card Series, he added 17 more playoff appearances, a 179-game grind that sent him into the record books.

His five Game 5 appearances gave him 835 in one year, both regular and postseason, breaking the record set by Lenny Dykstra in 1993.

It may show wear at times. Semien had two extra hits and no home runs in 66 playoff at-bats, batting .197 in 15 games.

But it ended with a flourish.

Semien drove in five runs with a two-run triple and a home run in Game 4 and a single and home run in Game 5.

exhausted?

“Baseball. We don’t play football or basketball. We play baseball,” he says. “You can go out there and do something special every day.”

Nothing is more special than a game of 179, and seeing a dream take shape with your partner in crime.

“There was a lot of trust,” Seager says. “There’s a lot of confidence from me and them, a lot of confidence in Marcus coming in – all these guys who came here and had the same vision.

“It’s great to see it through.”

“Everyone in the room — we all played for this,” Simien says. “We didn’t play for any other prizes.”

“We played for this”

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