The Emergence of Milwaukee Brewers Shortstop Jean Segura
On July 27, 2012, a trade went down between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a trade that sent Zack Greinke out west for prospects: right handed pitchers Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg, and a 22 year old shortstop named Jean Segura. All three started their Milwaukee careers in AA, but Segura made the trip up to the big leagues in a short period of time following the trade. It wasn’t his Major League debut, as that occurred with the Angels on July 24, just three days prior to the trade, but on August 6th, after hitting .433 for Milwaukee’s AA team in eight games, Segura found himself a starting role as the Brewers shortstop.
During his two month stay in the Big Leagues in 2012, Segura didn’t exactly light the world on fire. In fact, some would say he struggled mightily, at least on defense. Offensively, Segura batted .264 with a slash line of .321/.331/.652, with just seven extra base hits (four doubles, three triples) and 14 runs batted in. Defensively, Segura made 10 errors in 43 games. Alongside a range factor per 9 (RF/9) of 3.67 and a range factor per game (RF/G) of 3.60 (league average was 4.26 and 4.21 respectively for shortstops), Brewer fans probably weren’t too high on Segura at the time.
However, Segura seems to have figured something out. Perhaps he just matured, maybe spent more time in the cage, tweaked his swing or stance, who knows? Regardless of what he did, the numbers are there. Currently batting .330 with a slash line of .365/.518/.882, Segura is showing he should be given strong all-star consideration. Not necessarily to start the game, as Colorado Rockies star Troy Tulowitzki has that locked down, but Segura is definitely deserving of making the roster and at least playing a couple of innings with an at-bat. As it stands, the fan voting for the National League All-Stars has San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford in second place ahead of Segura and behind Tulowitzki. While the only spot that truly counts in fan voting is first, it is a bit of a shame to see the fan voting the way it is, as Segura is far outplaying Crawford.
Defensively, Segura has improved tremendously from his 2012 stint. Through 68 games at short, Segura made just six errors, and his RF/9 and RF/G have jumped incredibly, currently sitting at 4.85 and 4.75 respectively (league average for both: 4.32 and 4.31). His ultimate zone rating (UZR) has also improved, going from -4.4 last year all the way up to 0.3 this year, which puts him as just about an average fielder, but still a vast improvement.
Back to the offense, Segura has shown a bit of power and speed this season, belting 10 home runs to go with seven doubles and a league leading eight triples, as well as throwing in 22 steals in 24 attempts. Segura’s .882 OPS is second in the Majors for shortstops behind only Tulowitzki (who’s OPS is a remarkable 1.048), while his OBP ranks fifth among MLB shortstops and his slugging percentage is also second behind Tulowitzki.
As of right now, Segura is in a slight slump, hitting just .240 over his last six games (6-25) without a single extra base hit and no runs driven in or scored. While he’s not striking out, the sudden dip in production may be a slight cause for concern, but Brewers fans are hopeful that he can turn it back around soon enough. Regardless, he’s played well enough to be given a spot on the National League All-Star roster as a reserve, and hopefully playing in a relatively small market won’t block out Segura from getting his rightful spot on the team.