When you’re also up for the Most Valuable Player Award, winning Rookie of the Year is a mere formality.

Still, Corey Seager will take it.

And if you’re just now joining us, he did. When the results of the National League Rookie of the Year voting were announced on MLB Network on Monday evening, the 22-year-old shortstop came away as a unanimous winner over Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Kenta Maeda and Washington Nationals center fielder Trea Turner.

Seager is the first Dodger to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award since Todd Hollandsworth made it five straight for the organization back in 1996. Cue him being over the proverbial moon.

“I’m excited and overwhelmed right now,” Seager said, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “It’s a distinguished award. Congratulations to the other two, to Trea and Kenta. It’s awesome to be nominated, really exciting to win. I don’t have the words for it, really.”

Since Seager doesn’t have the words to describe his win, we’ll pick one for him: inevitable.

I don’t know if we’ll ever see a young player take a path to the Rookie of the Year Award as straight as the one Kris Bryant walked. He went from being Baseball America‘s College Player of the Year in 2013 to the Minor League Player of the Year in 2014 to the unanimous NL Rookie of the Year in 2015.

But as far as paths go, the one Seager took to his Rookie of the Year Award was the next best thing.

He started his pro career as the No. 18 pick in the 2012 draft. A year later, he was a top-100 prospect going into the 2014 season. Then he was a top-10 prospect going into 2015. Coming into this season, he was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in Major League Baseball by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com and ESPN.com.

It was all about the bat. By the time Seager broke into the majors late in 2015, he was a .307 hitter with an .891 OPS in the minors. He lived up to that and then some, hitting .337 with a .986 OPS with the Dodgers in a 27-game sample size that was small enough to keep his rookie status intact.

That set a high bar for Seager in his first full major league season in 2016. He cleared it by having the best offensive season for a rookie shortstop in history.

That’s not so much reflected in his .308/.365/.512 slash line, nor in his 26 home runs. It’s more so reflected in his adjusted OPS+ of 137, which was the best ever for a rookie shortstop with at least 300 plate appearances.

Then there’s his total offensive value, which snapped a rookie shortstop record set over 100 years ago:

None of us can say we weren’t warned that Seager was capable of this. The specific words varied, but every scouting report on him told tales of a hitter who was gifted in every way.

For example, here’s what Keith Law put in his write-up at ESPN.com:

Seager, the younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle, has electric hands at the plate and does everything very easily — his swing, hip rotation and power look effortless — but it’s his approach that makes him the best prospect in baseball. Seager’s pitch recognition is advanced way beyond his years, and you’ll see him make adjustments within at-bats that even veterans don’t make. He’s better than most players his age at adjusting to a pitch he didn’t expect and does very well covering the outer half without creating a hole on the inner third.

Seager lived up to all this. Per Brooks Baseball, he hit no worse than .215 against any particular pitch. He also finished with red-hot spots in all but one area of the strike zone.

And he didn’t get by simply by hitting it where they weren’t. According to Baseball Savant, Seager averaged 91.5 mph on his batted balls, easily topping the league average of 89.1 mph. He hit 212 balls at 95 mph or better, which was just three fewer than the majors’ OPS leader, David Ortiz.

As further proof of Seager’s hitting mastery, look how he spread those rockets around:

The one thing the prospect gurus weren’t sold on coming into the year was Seager’s defense. There were concerns that he was too big to play the position and that if the Dodgers wanted his bat in the lineup, they would have to live with a drag on their overall ability to field the ball.

Not true, as it turned out. According to advanced metrics, Seager’s defense was somewhere between brilliant (10.6 ultimate zone rating) and fine (zero defensive runs saved).

That this led to Seager winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award is up there with Mike Trout’s American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012 as among the least surprising wins ever.

It was obvious when Seager went into the All-Star break with an .879 OPS and 17 homers that he was the man to beat for the award. His cool-down didn’t come until he hit .205 with a .619 OPS in the postseason. By then, the Rookie of the Year votes were already in the bag.

Now the only question is if the votes that went into the National League MVP bag will produce the same result when the announcement is made Thursday. Seager’s up against Bryant, a fellow phenom, and Daniel Murphy, a sweet-swinging veteran. There’s less of a clear choice in this race, but the favorite does appear to be Bryant rather than Seager.

But if Seager doesn’t follow his Rookie of the Year Award with an MVP Award on Thursday, it’ll likely just be a matter of time before he does.

Call it an educated hunch. If he’s already an MVP-caliber player as a 22-year-old rookie, becoming even more of an MVP-caliber player in the future doesn’t seem like too much to ask.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

Follow zachrymer on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com