Jean Segura came to Milwaukee in 2012, a highly touted shortstop prospect shipped from Los Angeles as the centerpiece in the Zack Greinke trade. The Brewers gave him the chance to audition for most of the second half in 2012, and his .264/.321/.331 in 163 plate appearances was good enough to allow him to enter 2013 as the starter. We watched as we thought Segura was surely breaking out, making the All-Star team on the strength of a .325/.363/.487 first half, but hasn’t been close to the same hitter since then.
Segura struggled to the finish in 2013, eventually ending with a .294/.329/.423 line in 623 plate appearances. The Brewers didn’t allow Segura to play winter ball, hoping that fatigue was what caused his second half struggles. However, Segura’s high BABIP, ridiculously high ground ball percentage, and very poor walk rate should have been more cause for concern. Segura and the Brewers failed to agree to a contract extension in spring of 2014, which looks like it may end up being a saving grace for Milwaukee. Though Segura dealt with freak injury and personal tragedy during the last year, his 2014 performance has left his future in Milwaukee in doubt.
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Jean came back down to earth in 2014, putting up a measly .246/.289/.326 line in 557 plate appearances. His average fell nearly 50 points, his slugging almost 100 points. He managed only 25 extra base hits, 17 less than in 2013. He stole 24 fewer bases with nearly an 11% lower success rate than in his first full season. His wRC+ of 67 and OPS+ of 71 last season are unacceptable marks for a starter, even one at shortstop. He hit ground balls 58.9% of the time, one reason why his BABIP of .272 and SLG of .326 weren’t entirely surprising. He was valued at only 0.6 WAR, a drop of nearly 3 wins from 2013.
2015 will likely be a make or break year for Segura. The Brewers acquired another highly touted shortstop prospect in Luis Sardinas this offseason, and Orlando Arcia, the Brewers #1 prospect, is also a shortstop. Segura posted a strong .319/.364/.389 in September and was solid in winter ball this offseason, hopefully setting a good tone for his upcoming season.
In 2015, I’m predicting:
148 G 580 PA 549 AB 59 R 138 H 18 2B 7 3B 6 HR 42 RBI 29 SB 10 CS .251 BA .291 OBP .342 SLG 26 BB 74 K
I’m predicting a slight bump in Segura’s offensive numbers, but not a significant one. I think he will still be hurt by a high ground ball rate and a low BABIP, and Segura has never shown much of an ability to draw walks in either the majors or minors. However, I believe that Segura will get a bump up in steals, and based on his solid defense and very strong baserunning, our simple WAR calculator still values Segura at 1.24 WAR, which would be a solid improvement over his poor showing in 2014. For a likely number 8 hitter, the Brewers could do much worse.
2015 will be a big season for Jean Segura. Coming off a poor season last year and with two hot shortstop prospects nipping at his heels, Segura could find himself without a place in Milwaukee next season unless he can have a strong year. While I think Segura will see a solid improvement for 2015, I’m not certain that it will be enough to solidify his role for the Brewers beyond this season.