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Jean Segura: Ground ball machine?

Segura hasn't been hitting all that well in the first two weeks of the season. Is this just a product of the small sample size or an indication of a larger issue?

Bob Levey

Coming into this season Jean Segura was somewhat of a mystery. We all knew about his early and late season splits from last year and it was justifiable to wonder which version we were going to get. If you had asked me a few weeks ago I would have confidently told you I expected him to be able to recreate his season slash line, just without the highs and lows. Unfortunately, thus far in this young season he has fallen short of even the most pessimistic expectations. It’s so very early in the season so it’s not nearly time to panic, however I've noticed something to worry about.

Except for the last game in Boston and the first two in Philly, Segura has not been hitting well at all it's only been 12 games so it's not his triple slash that I'm worried about. The thing that has me concerned is that after the second game of the season Segura has not hit a single fly ball. Somewhat related, outside of that three game stretch, he has only 1 line drive. This has resulted in an insanely high 78.8% ground ball rate and an insanely low 6.1% fly ball rate. His line drive rate is only slightly lower than last year. I wouldn’t expect those rates to continue and if Segura is to be effective again, he absolutely can't allow them to.

Take a look at Segura's zone profile on ground balls from last year here. Now take a look at his profile on flyballs here. You will notice that Segura hit a lot of ground balls in general. You'll also notice that nearly all of the fly balls came on pitches up in the zone. To put it another way, an insignificant number of the fly balls he hit were on low pitches. Now take a look at Segura's overall profile from this year here. Unsurprisingly, pitchers are pounding the bottom of the zone against Segura. This is why he's not hitting fly balls. To put it simply, pitchers have adjusted to Segura and he seemingly hasn't adjusted to them. Not yet anyway.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Segura did suffer some kind of injury or general soreness in his shoulder during spring training. He's also gotten banged up a bit in the first couple of weeks and it's certainly possible that this has had some kind of impact on his ability to hit. I think it's more likely to do with how pitcher are throwing to him. He really needs to figure out how to elevate those low pitches. Segura is fast, but his defense is only average to slightly above average. He doesn't draw walks so his OBP is very dependent on his batting average. I'm afraid he won't be terribly valuable if he can hit, but that's not to say he'll be worthless. As I mentioned earlier, it's terribly early in the season so let's hope we don't have to find out.