Jean Segura was two different players in 2013. Through April and May he set the world on fire, and was looking like a potential MVP candidate. Then the wheels fell off offensively in June and beyond. After being well above average for the first two months, he never again posted a league average wRC+ after May.
The BABIP Gods
Usually the first stat checked when looking for regression is BABIP. Segura posted high BABIPs in both April and May (.400 and .367, respectively). However, for a player who hits relatively few balls in the air and his speed, one would expect Segura’s BABIP to be a bit higher than usual. Following his two hot months, his BABIP fluctated above and below the .300 mark before finishing at a very low .245 in September.
BABIP doesn’t tell us the whole story, though. He posted a solid BABIP in July (.325), but was still unable to be the offensive force he had been early in the season. There are a multitude of other factors that contributed to his decrease in offensive performance.
After posting ISOs above .190 in both April and May, Segura’s power dissipated over the course of the season. In fact, he did not have a single home run the last two months of the season, and only one total after the All-Star break. He saw his ground ball percentage greatly increase after the first month of the season which may have been partly responsible for the decrease in power. Brewer fans remember that when Carlos Gomez‘s power surge occurred, he began to hit fewer balls on the ground. This is going to have to be an approach change by Segura. He is plenty strong enough to drive the ball out of the park, so he should be hitting fewer balls on the ground and try for more extra base hits.
Like I stated earlier, Segura’s approach at the plate is too directed towards hitting balls on the ground. He also hasn’t shown to be a very disciplined hitter. He also doesn’t swing and miss very often which leads to a lot of weak contact. You’ll notice in the spray charts to the right that he has many ground balls to the infielders, particularly to the pitcher and middle infielders. As a hitter, often times weak ground balls up the middle are attributed to weak contact after being fooled by an off-speed pitch.
He saw a great decrease in his power to the opposite field in the second part of the season. After having 13 XBHs to the opposite field in the first two months of the season (including five home runs), he only had ten the final four months. He became more pull-happy and weakened his ability to drive the ball to the opposite field.
The pull-happy result may have come from his increased swing rate on off-speed pitches in the latter half of the season. The graphic below illustrates the fact that Segura’s approach changed drastically.
The increased swing rate on off-speed pitches may have attributed to the increased pull tendencies and weaker contact. There is no direct cause/effect involved in these factors, but as a collective group, these factors are at least partially responsible for Segura’s struggles in the second half.
Which is the real Segura?
The boring, but probable answer is somewhere in the middle. He has the capability to be a 20/30 type player in the future, but in the near future he’s probably a 10/30 player. He will need to lay off more off-speed pitches so he can produce more solid contact and utilize his ability to drive the ball with power to the opposite field. This combined with the general trend of increasing BB rate and decreasing K rate as he ages makes him an impact player going forward providing he can make a few adjustments in his approach.