Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’14 – #9 Jean Segura

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SINGLE DIGITS!!!!!

We’re nine days away from Opening Day, and just five from the Brewers breaking camp and coming north for a pair of exhibition games against the Kansas City Royals.

I’m so excited to have typed all that just now.

Since we’re nine days away from Opening Day, and this is “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”, let’s get to the point and start looking at…

Jean Segura.

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Jean Carlos Enrique Segura is the starting shortstop for the Milwaukee Brewers, a job which earned him a trip to Flushing, New York last year for the All-Star Game at CitiField. It really was a tale of two halves for Segura though in 2013.

Following a strong debut in late 2012 after coming over as the lead chip in the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Segura continued his great play at the plate and in the field as 2013 got underway. He struggled every now and then with his hands as he’s still working to develop the necessary softness to be elite, but he more than made up for it with spectacular plays and quality turns in the batter’s box.

Segura earned his All-Star appearance on the field through hustle, determination, a little bit of grit, and that magical quality known as “want.” All of those things combined to give him a “first half” of .325/.363/.487, 121 hits, 11 doubles, 8 triples, 11 home runs, 36 RBI, 27 stolen bases. It had people dancing in the stands and singing the praises of Doug Melvin yet again.

Hidden in those solid overall numbers was the steady, if gradual, decline in his numbers. Granted, nobody maintains a .400 BAbip like Segura had in April leading to a .367 batting average, but that’s not the only thing that worked against him.

In April, May, and June, Segura hit .367, .345, and .277 respectively. He rebounded a bit in July, hitting .281, but his slugging (just .354 in July) began avoiding him like it owed him money.

Here are the month-by-month splits for Segura:

  • April: .367/.418/.567, 33 H, 3 2B, 3 2B, 3 HR , 9 RBI, 7 SB, 7 BB, 12 K
  • May: .345/.373/.538, 41 H, 4 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 8 SB, 4 BB, 17 K
  • June: .277/.296/.429, 31 H, 2 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 9 SB, 2 BB, 13 K
  • July: .281/.327/.354, 27 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 7 SB, 5 BB, 16 K
  • Aug: .252/.271/.313, 29 H, 5 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 7 SB, 3 BB, 19 K
  • Sep: .214/.267/.286, 12 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 6 SB, 4 BB, 7 K

The BAbip breakdown by month: .400, .367, .292, .325, .302, .245.

As you can see, Segura never stoppped running, though he did get caught more often in the last three months of the season.

What you can’t see in those numbers though, is how Segura’s batted balls behaved differently as the season wore on. For that, we call on FanGraphs.com and their tracking of Line Drive Percentage and Ground Ball Percentage.

  • April: 20.8% LD%, 49.4% GB%
  • May: 20.8% LD%, 59.4% GB%
  • June: 18.8%, 61.5%
  • July: 12.7%, 67.1%
  • Aug: 16.3%, 59.8%
  • Sep: 18.4%, 51.0%

As Segura began to hit more grounders and fewer liners, it caught up to his numbers. He beat out a good number of infield hits in 2013, but that’s not a sustainable method of success.

Two things there. First, the league definitely made some adjustments against the hot “rookie”, but it was widely thought that Segura simply wore down after basically playing baseball non-stop for well over a year by the time 2013 would come to a close.

To combat that, the Brewers decided to prevent Segura from playing in Winter Ball as he has been accustomed. They want him fresh for the entire regular season. That time off has contributed to a bit of a slow start in Cactus League play, but Segura was turning it on lately.

However, as of press time, Segura hadn’t played in a few days and wasn’t likely to play in the field again until Tuesday, March 25 as he rests a balky shoulder. He’s got no problems swinging the bat, so he’s been getting work on the minor league side, but shortstops are known to have to throw on occasion so the Brewers want to make sure he’s healthy in nine days.

Assuming no setbacks, Segura appears ticketed for the second spot in the batting order once the season begins. He enjoyed a good amount of success there in 2013 and should benefit from the return of Ryan Braun to the three-hole. That said, it could cost Segura some stolen base opportunities as they won’t always want to be running into outs in front of the best hitters.

Segura’s game is contact at the plate, quality baserunning, and range/arm in the field. He ended last season still with questions about his hands, but that’s a fixable skill. If he can realize his potential a little more consistently, it could be another All-Star season for the 5’10” Dominican.

And if the Brewers are going to compete in 2014, they’ll need the production from Segura. There’s simply no real alternative.

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” profiles to this point:

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