Jean Segura’s 2016 season for the Arizona Diamondbacks is worthy of hardware consideration
For all of the questionable trades and free agent signings, this front office has hit the jackpot with a number of players. After all, criticism of Tony La Russa, the Chief Baseball Officer of the Arizona Diamondbacks and general manager Dave Stewart does not seem to stop.
The five-player trade with the Milwaukee Brewers in early February stands out perhaps as the best example. This particular deal sent Aaron Hill, Chase Anderson, minor-league infielder Isan Diaz and cash to the Brewers in exchange for pitcher Tyler Wagner and infielder Jean Segura.
For the most part, Wagner was injured and spent most of the season in the minors. Conversely, Segura is having one of the best offensive seasons in franchise history.
When the deal became official, one national publication called the transaction, “a confusing move.” This critique seemed justifiable.
After a breakout year in 2013 with the Brewers, Segura regressed significantly over the next two seasons. His OPS+ in 2013 was 105 (league average is 100). In 2014 and 2015, he combined for an OPS+ of 138.
That big of a drop off in production normally produces red flags about the particular value. The Diamondbacks are known for valuing players differently, and Segura is one example.
Thanks to a simplified approach, Segura has proved everybody wrong. The result is one of the better individual stories in the Major League Baseball this year.
For the season, Segura has been the definition of consistency. After hitting .469 in 19 spring training games, and leading the team in runs scored, Segura continued his torrid hitting through the season. Coming into Friday night’s game in Baltimore, he was hitting .317, and that was fifth best in the National League.
When debating the validity of the 26-year-old’s MVP resume, everybody, for good reason, an argument can be made.
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Take a look at his month-by-month splits. Segura’s batting average dipped below .300 only once. In May, he hit .278 (30-for-108). Despite the drop in average, he was still productive. Segura collected 10 extra-base hits, drove in 12 runs, and scored 15 times.
Here, the league-wide norm for batting average normally sits between .250 and .275. Most major-league hitters would take that as their worst month.
The numbers speak for themselves. Segura hit .333 in April, .323 in June, .309 in July and .346 in August. In 76 at-bats this month, Segura sits at .316 with an OPS of .924.
Adding to his All-Around Game
This month, Segura has added power to his arsenal. In his last eight games,and coming into Wednesday night’s game with the Padres, Segura collected 16 hits in 35 at-bats. Five of those hits are home runs.
Segura hit multiple long balls in back-to-back games on September 13th and 14th against San Diego. His 17 home runs this season are a career-high, and his seven lead-off shots are the second most for a Diamondback in a single season.
In the first five months this season Segura recorded 30 or more hits. Among N.L. hitters, his 190 hits and 22, 3-plus hit games are first. Among lead-off hitters he is first in hits, tied for first in triples, second in total bases, third in RBI and sixth in average.
Luis Gonzalez collected 206 hits in 1999. Segura needs 10 more hits to become the second player in team history to reach the 200 hit plateau.
In addition, Segura leads the Diamondbacks with a 5.0 WAR, per Baseball Reference. Segura is second in the N.L. in extra-bases taken on a passed ball, a wild pitch, a balk and defensive indifference. With RISP, Segura is hitting .284 and his 30 stolen bases adds another element to his value.
The Bottom Line
The argument that Segura or Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies can’t win National League MVP because they play for a losing team is not fair. An MVP should be the player that a team can’t survive without regardless of overall team performance.
Around the Foghorn
While the overall Arizona offense remains one of the best in the National League, Segura’s contribution is telling. By all measures, Segura is a serious candidate for MVP.