Rookies Seager, Turner battle for National League supremacy in MLB Playoffs

Rising stars from North Carolina have carved out roles as the best rookies in MLB on opposite sides of the country.

Brad Mills—USA Today Sports
Washington Nationals second baseman Trea Turner (7) hits a two run homer against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning at Nationals Park in Washington

Corey Seager grew up in North Carolina and was a first-round pick out of Northwest Cabarrus. Trea Turner blossomed into a first-round pick when he left Lake Worth, Fla. to play at NC State. This season, both have risen to stardom as the top two rookies in the National League.In the NL Division Series, they will clash on the postseason stage for the first time. Turner has a total of 100 games under his belt at the MLB level with the Nationals and none have come in the playoffs. While Seager played in five playoff games last season for the Dodgers, this year has a completely different feel.”It’s one of those things where you have to go through it to understand it, and now I know what to expect,” Seager told Ken Gurnick of “The veterans try to help, and looking back, their advice was good to hear at the time, but it really isn’t much help.”I mean, I was still getting used to being in the big leagues, then you’re thrown in there and it’s not overwhelming, but in the playoffs, you’re even more uncertain what to do, what to expect. Honestly, right now I’m just more comfortable, and that will be the biggest difference.”Seager’s first full year at the MLB level has him in more than just consideration for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Jonah Keri of CBS Sports called him winning the award “one of the biggest runaways in the history of the award.” Then again, had Turner spent the entire season playing for the Nats, this might be closer.In 157 games, Seager boasts a clip of .308/.365/.512 with 26 home runs and 72 RBI. On a team packed with superstars, the Charlotte native leads the team in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, doubles (40) and hits (193) for the NL West Champions.As the No. 3 batter in the loaded lineup, Seager is prepared to lead the team yet again in October.”No, you want to be in there, you want to be in the big spots, in those moments,” he said. “You’re grateful they put you in there. You want to be the guy that helps the team win.”Turner may not have the service time of Seager, but he’s been no less impressive to close out the season. After earning the moniker of “Burner Turner” at NC State, the speedster stole 33 bases in just 73 games to prove his ridiculous abilities translate to the MLB level.Just how good is Turner? He’s already getting praise from teammate and 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper.”Aw, man, it’s a lot of fun,” Harper said. “He brings that energy, brings that fire that you want. A kid that can really come up here and enjoy the game, have his fun and it really just shows his speed.”Let’s temper that whole “kid” thing though, Bryce. Turner’s only eight months younger than the face of the Nationals.But Turner is so much more than just a set of wheels for the Nats. He’s hitting .342/.370/.567 in 307 at bats with 13 homers and an absurd eight triples. Chicks dig the long ball, but Turner’s eight three-baggers have him tied for sixth in the MLB this season — no other player has done so in less than 107 games.Those numbers also put Turner in rarefied air in MLB history. Only three other players — Bobby Bonds, Rickey Henderson and Davy Lopes — have ever totaled 10 homers and 30 stolen bases in less than 100 games in a single season.”He’s a combination of speed and power which is rare these days,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said. “You don’t know if he’s going to top one, bunt one, get a walk, steal and the opposition doesn’t know either, so they’re going to try to get ahead of him.”Between them, Seager and Turner combined to win three of the six NL Rookie of the Month awards, with Seager taking it in June and Turner winning in both August and September. Starting this weekend, both will be asked to help carry their respective teams for yet another month all the way to a championship.It’s still early in both of their young careers, but both Turner and Seager are already catalysts for their teams heading into the postseason. And while there’s no N.C. franchise in the MLB, there is clear talent coming from the state and a rooting interest for any baseball fan.