When the Brewers acquired 22-year-old infielder Jean Segura in the Zack Greinke trade, he was pretty widely seen as the shortstop of the future. A few weeks later he made his Brewer debut in August, becoming the shortstop of the present. He hit .258/.315/.325 in his debut season but played above average defense, leading many of us to believe he had a future as a "glove first" infielder while his bat developed. This year, he blew those expectations out of the water.
Segura came out of the gate red hot and hit .367/.418/.567 in April with nine extra base hits, including three triples and his first three MLB home runs. His power numbers stayed high in May, as he hit five more home runs and moved into the MLB lead in hits. His numbers started to drop a little bit in June but he was still good enough to make his first All Star team, and went 24-for his first 26 stealing bases.
The biggest challenge with Segura is trying to figure out what to expect from him going forward. He was a .365/.400/.569 hitter following his franchise record-tying six hit game on May 28, but his batting line dropped to .258/.292/.350 in the 97 games that followed. He hit his eleventh homer of the season on June 21 but only had one after that.
There are, of course, several possible explanations for Segura's second half fade. He followed his first MLB season by playing a full season of winter ball, so it's possible fatigue was a factor in the longest season of his life. It's possible the challenges of his first full MLB season and the bumps and bruises that go with it caught up with him, as shown by the fact that he was successful in 24 of his first 26 stolen base attempts, but got caught ten times in his last 30.
There's another possible explanation, though, that's not quite as promising. Segura's ~.650 OPS in the last two thirds of his season is roughly what many of us were predicting for him before the season. There's a chance that his performance down the stretch was a better reflection of the hitter he'll be in the long term.
That's the fun of watching young players, though: No one knows for sure.
I've already alluded to it above, but even if Segura accomplishes nothing else as a Brewer he could retire as the proud co-owner of a pretty significant franchise record. He collected six hits in seven at bats in a 14 inning loss to the Twins on May 28, scoring twice and driving in a run. You can see all six hits here:
2013 was Segura's first full year in the majors, so he has a little more than a full year of MLB service time. Assuming nothing changes, he'll have two-more pre-arbitration seasons and three arbitration years before becoming a free agent for the first time for the 2019 season.
With that said, the Brewers have already mentioned the possibility that they could look to sign Segura to a long-term deal this winter in an effort to get some cost certainty going forward.
Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below:
#1: Carlos Gomez
#2: Jonathan Lucroy