Scooter, Segura, and the Brewers’ Future at Second Base
The rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers have totally transformed their farm system over the past 15 months or so. Milwaukee now possesses more depth than they have at anytime within the last decade, and they are especially strong in the middle of the diamond. The Brewers’ top prospect, Orlando Arcia, is a shortstop who will probably be ready for his MLB debut sometime next season. The only problem is that the Brewers already have Jean Segura entrenched as their everyday shortstop, effectively blocking Arcia at the MLB level.
With a bit of a logjam, it appears that some kind of wheeling and dealing will eventually become inevitable. A trade of Segura would make the most sense, in my mind; he’s entering his first year of arbitration eligibility and has previously turned down a long-term extension to stay in Milwaukee, and there was some interest in his services prior to this year’s trade deadline. An alternate solution that’s been proposed by many fans and talking heads alike, however, would be to instead try and ship out second baseman Scooter Gennett and move Segura (who played second in the minor leagues) full-time to the keystone.
The problem with this idea is that Segura is much more valuable as a shortstop than he is at second base. Jean is a strong defender at shortstop, having accumulated 54.2 Fielding Runs Above Average during his MLB career. His bat, however, lags far behind his defense. Segura is hitting just .270/.294/.339 this season and posted similar numbers last year, producing a very high ground ball rate that severely limits his power potential. Short is an offensively starved position throughout the league, though. The average shortstop is hitting a paltry .255/.304/.372 in 2015, which isn’t that far of a cry from Segura’s numbers. The total package of Jean Segura – outstanding defense, well below average offense – comes out to be about a major league average starting shortstop.
When you move this profile to second base, however, the overall package becomes much less appealing. Second base is a much better position offensively throughout the league, with the average second baseman hitting .261/.317/.389 this season. Segura’s .633 OPS this season is more than 70 points below that mark. Second base is considered a less of a premium position than shortstop is, which would negate some of the value of Segura’s strongest asset, his defense. Unless he can figure it out with the bat, Segura would become a below average contributor overall if shifted to second.
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Going forward, it would make much more sense to continue employing a platoon at second base. We know Scooter Gennett can’t hit lefties, but the majority of MLB pitchers are right handed and finding Scooter a cheap, adequate right handed hitting platoon partner hasn’t been that tall of an order (see Elian Herrera or Hernan Perez). Gennett falls more into the “serviceable” category when it comes to defense, but it seems like with his slow start this year and platoon deficiencies, his offensive ability has been wholly underrated. Let’s not forget that Scooter is a career .288/.319/.430 hitter in his three big league seasons, and he’s got a cool .757 OPS since being recalled from AAA in June. Gennett will never be a star or likely even an everyday starter in the big leagues, but a platoon spearheaded by Scooter and a capable right handed hitting complement could easily yield somewhere around 3-4 WAR per season. If you need an example, look back at how productive the Gennett-Rickie Weeks platoon from last season turned out to be.
The rebuilding Brewers would be wise to attempt to trade Jean Segura this offseason, helping to further augment the farm system while clearing up the infield logjam that could hold back the team’s top prospect. Segura is a terrific defender at shortstop that is capable of a decent batting average (but not much else) at the plate, and with three years of club control remaining the Brewers should be able to acquire a decent haul for his services. Moving him off shortstop would significantly reduce his value in the Brewers’ lineup, as he can’t come close to matching the offensive production that incumbent second baseman Scooter Gennett (plus platoon partner) can provide. The future is looking better and better each day for the Milwaukee Brewers, but it is becoming more apparent that Jean Segura just doesn’t fit into the picture long-term.