Jean Segura was always looked at as a potential star. The fleet-of-foot shortstop has a very fantasy friendly game that was on full display in 2013. Or was it? The numbers in 2013 suggested he was a burgeoning star, but if we remove a month of action from that first full season we end up having 300 games of big league work that show his bat simply isn't ready for prime time. Does that mean he's doomed to fail in 2015 or can he recapture his previous glory?
2007: Signed by the Angels as an amateur free agent, the 17 year old appeared in 61 games in the Dominican Summer League. Segura hit .324 with a .785 OPS. He scored 39 times and stole 22 bases.
2008: In 11 games at Rookie Ball he hit .250 with one steal.
2009: Spent 43 games at Rookie ball and Triple-A. He hit a combined .354 with a .909 OPS. Segura scored 35 times and stole 11 bases.
2010: Appearing in 130 games at Single-A ball, he hit .313 with a .829 OPS. He hit 10 homers, drove in 79 runners, scored 89 times and stole 50 bases in 60 attempts.
2011: Baseball America's 57th best prospect, 35th on Baseball Prospectus' list. Appeared in 52 games as a 21 year old in Rookie Ball and High-A. He hit .293 with a .787 OPS. Segura stole 18 bases and hit four big flies.
2012: Baseball America's 55th best prospect, 67th on Baseball Prospectus' list and 55th for MLB.com. In 102 games at Double-A - including a move to the Brewers organization- Segura hit .304 with a .771 OPS. He hit seven homers, scored 57 times and swiped 37 bases.
TOTALS: .313/.367/.439 with 26 homers, 264 runs and 139 steals over 1,755 plate appearances
2012: Appeared in 45 games for the Angels and then Brewers hitting .258 with no homers, 19 runs and seven steals over 151 at-bats.
2013: Broke loose with a huge first season hitting .294 with 12 homers, 49 RBIs, 74 runs scored and 44 steals. Also hit 20 doubles with 10 triples.
2014: Crashed and burned batting .246 with five homers, 31 RBIs, 61 runs scored and just 20 steals.
Jean Segura is a skilled but flawed player. We don't need to dig very deep at all in order to understand that. A quick overview before we mine the data more thoroughly.
Here is his career slash line: .270/.311/.371
The league average since 2012: .261/.328/.409
Obviously he's a below performer according to these three rather important measures.
In three seasons he's hit 17 homers and drive in 94 runs. Last season Ian Desmond hit 24 homers with 91 RBIs. Segura is well below average as a power bat and run producer.
The last two seasons he's scored 135 runs. Seventy three players have scored more including eight shortstops. Heck, Jed Lowrie has 139 runs scored.
This cursory look at Segura tells us is that he's a poor offensive performer, but at least he has speed. Segura has swiped 64 bases the last two years and that's the 13th best number in baseball. Alas, he fell from 44 steals in 2013 to 20 in 2014, a massive drop.
So why is it that people seem to think there's a good chance that Segura "rebounds" in 2015? Let's explore.
First off, he turns 25 in March. People seem to always default to the position that a youngish player will rebound from a slump or a youngish player will improve from one season to the next. That's not always the case. It isn't. It's also possible that a guy will have his best offensive season in one of his first three years in the big leagues, never to reach the pinnacle of success again. It happens. The history of baseball is littered with such tales, though no one seems to want to admit it.
Second with Segura, playing off the theme just mentioned, people note that Segura was a very impressive performer in his first full season (2013). Totally true. When you hit .294-12-49-74 with 44 steals, as a shortstop, you're smoking good. Let's dig into that season a bit. It may not have been as impressive as you think.
Segura hit .367 in April.
Segura hit .345 in May.
He hit .325 in the first half.
Segura hit 11 homers in his first 71 games.
Yowzahs that is some impressive work.
Then reality hit.
Segura hit .241 after the All-Star break.
He hit one homer over his last 54 games while driving in 13 runs.
Truth be told, if we remove April and May of 2013 from consideration we are left with a guy who has hit .253 over 1,043 at-bats. Nearly fifty percent of his career homers came in those two months - eight of 17 - and he even swiped 21 percent of his career steals in those two stanzas (15 of 71 career thefts). Honestly, his entire reputation is pretty much built off of April and May of 2013. More data. Since June 1, 2013 Segura has hit .252 with a .290 OBP and .337 SLG. Nick Punto's career numbers if you need a baseline for how bad Segura has been follow: .245/.323./323.
Segura has no power. Nothing to see there. He's posted a 60 percent ground ball rate for his career and when he does lift the ball his 7.2 percent HR/F ratio is below average. The 12 homers he hit in 2013 would be the top of what he can be expected to provide.
Segura has averaged 40 RBIs the past two years. Dreadful.
Segura has speed so it's possible he could improve on his batting average but note the following. (1) He's hit .245 for his career - minus April/May of 2013. His 0.37 BB/K ratio is barely average. His .302 BABIP is barely above average. His 17.8 percent line drive rate is below average. Just nothing to see here.
Runs scored? He had better hit 1/2 in the Brewers lineup. If he's down at 7/8 it will crush his runs scored outlook. Not only is his career OBP .017 points below the league average since he became a pro, but he's posted a mark of .290 since June 1, 2013. That's flat out pathetic. Not saying that to pile on either. It's a simply awful number. Hell, Billy Hamilton - who is a terrible offensive performer - had a .292 mark last season.
Finally, Segura's complete inability to get on base simply kills his opportunities to run. Don't forget that he fell from 44 thefts in 2013 to 20 steals last season. A major reason for that was that his OBP fell .040 points. He simply wasn't on base enough to unleash his speed potential. He's 76 percent success rate on 94 career attempts is solid, and a run to 30 steals can't be ignored. But he must get on base more successfully or it will be very difficult for him to truly be the weapon that his speed suggest he could be.
PLAYING TIME CONSIDERATIONS
The Brewers added Luis Sardinas in the Yovani Gallardo deal with the Rangers. Prior to the move the 21 year old was named the 7th best prospect in the Rangers' organization by Baseball America. A solid defender, Sardinas' bat is moderate at best. He could push Segura for playing time in the second half if Jean doesn't get it going at the dish after he hit .261 in 115 at-bats last year in Texas. Most likely though it will be all Segura, all the time, with Sardinas filling a support role. As for his batting order spot, Segura has appeared in 116 games out of the eight hole, but 167 times he's hit leadoff or second. Watch where he ends up in the lineup as it will greatly impact his fantasy outlook in 2015.
Segura has skill. He's also extremely inconsistent and for the better part of his big league career he's struggled to even resemble a league average performer with a bat in his hands. The power of his 2013 effort is a significant draw at a position where elite production is scarce. Hopefully though the previous 1,400 words have let you in on a little secret that some people simply won't face. Segura has been a bust way more than a hit for the majority of his career. He's shown no growth the past season an a half. In truth, he's actually regressed as an offensive performer. If he's your starter at shortstop you should expect to be treading water. There's "upside" here, but there's scant evidence that he will realize that talent in 2015.
10 team lg: Risky as a starting shortstop in this format. The speed is nice, but if his batting average continues to languish you're really running out a deficient offensive performer.
12 team lg: More palatable as a starting shortstop option in a league this season, but one on the lower end of targets. Don't know how excited anyone can get about Jed Lowrie and Jhonny Peralta types giving Segura a boost. Just realize that you're really only drafted one category and will need to bolster your offense elsewhere.
NL-only: A strong play in this setup. His speed could be elite in this deep format, and given that his cost will likely be suppressed he's a fine target to, well, target.