Pitch selectivity fueling Jean Segura’s hot start
A lot has been made about Jean Segura’s hot start to the 2016 campaign, his first season in a Diamondbacks uniform, and for good reason.
He currently sits seventh in the majors with a .337 average, and has more hits than anyone else so far with 58. Segura leads all N.L. leadoff hitters in hits, total bases, and is second in average, third in extra-base hits, and his 150 at-bats are the most in the majors.
Segura’s 129 wRC+, .377 wOBA, .174 ISO, and 8.6 wRAA are all far above his career averages, showing that is contributing more to his team’s offensive value.
When all is said and done, it’s not surprising that his WAR, WPA, and Offense value are all positive for the first time since his All-Star 2013 season. What stands out the most about Segura’s start has been his ability to drive the ball with authority. His five home runs and nine doubles put him ahead of his 2013 All-Star pace.
Plate discipline and his approach, especially in regards to pitch selection has been crucial for this: Segura has always been overaggressive at the plate, but thus far, 2016 has been an clear outlier.
Instead of swinging at everything this season, he is being selectively aggressive and that explains why he has been so consistent.
Compared to 2015, the 26-year-old’s swing-percentage is six percent lower, he is swinging less at pitches that are out of the zone. And when pitches are in the zone, he is actually making more contact (93.1 Z-Contact% to 91.5).
He is also making more contact overall, including slightly more when he chooses to go after a pitch off the plate, he is seeing more strikes as evidenced by a higher zone-percentage, and he is swinging and missing about two percent less.
It’s hard to evaluate a hitters progress from year-to-year with a small sample size, but plate discipline are often the best way to predict full season success, and Segura’s numbers are just one example.
When he is making contact, Segura is using the whole field, hitting the ball harder, and hitting more line drives, less groundballs, and is striking out less.
Segura’s walk rate is just 2.2 percent, which is atypical for a leadoff man, but he has been ahead in the count in the majority of his 172 at-bats. As a result he has seen more fastballs compared to this point of the season last year, and more of them are center-cut.
If all of this continues, Segura is not only in for a career year at the plate, but possibly even MVP consideration.