Fantasy Baseball: Is Jean Segura Worth His Relatively High Price?
The surprise revitalization of Jean Segura was one of the feel-good MLB stories of 2016.
After taking a flier on the 26-year-old infielder (whose promising early career with the Milwaukee Brewers went south in 2014 and 2015 amid terrible personal tragedy), the Arizona Diamondbacks were duly rewarded when Segura produced arguably his best all-around season, tallying 20 homers, 33 steals, and 102 runs scored while hitting a cool .319 across 694 plate appearances.
Segura’s relocation has not discouraged the fantasy community, who seem to be buying the Segura comeback wholesale. Segura is valued as a late sixth-round pick heading into 2017 drafts, per FantasyPros consensus.
But is the helium on Segura worth buying into, and what do the numbers say about Segura’s chances of repeating his stellar 2016 production?
Our interest in Segura as a fantasy asset has largely come and gone with his home run and steal numbers, making it easy to overlook perhaps his most impressive hit tool -- he is great at making contact.
Segura’s 84.9 percent contact rate in 2016 was a top-40 mark across baseball for hitters with at least 400 plate appearances. The same goes for his stingy 7.0 percent swinging-strike rate, a tick below that of elite veteran contact hitters like Joey Votto and Adrian Beltre.
This skill was evident even during his down period with the Brewers. His highest season-long strikeout rate that was the still-impressive 15.9 percent mark from 2015. The same goes for his contact rate -- his career worst mark was the 84.2 percent rate that he posted his rookie year.
Though his perennially sub-six-percent walk rate is nothing to write home about, Segura’s return to form nonetheless seems to have been aided by his adopting a more discerning plate approach. In 2016, Segura posted his lowest out-of-zone swing and overall swing percentage marks since his breakout in 2013.
Segura also showed some of his most consistent all-fields hitting to date, showing power to every part of the diamond.
|Season||Pull ISO%||Center ISO%||Oppo ISO%|
The result was an overall hard-hit rate of 29.7 percent, a new career high that was almost two percentage points better than the mark he posted during his 2013 breakout in Milwaukee.
In With the New
Of course, what truly differentiates Segura as a fantasy asset is his speed. He’s totaled no fewer than 20 steals in each of his last four seasons, swiping 33 last year, the seventh-highest total across the majors.
There is perhaps some concern that Segura’s green light will dim a bit moving from Arizona to Seattle. After all, the Diamondbacks attempted the fourth-highest number of steals in baseball in 2016, while Seattle attempted the seventh-fewest.
But for Seattle, this seems to be more of a personnel-based decision than a philosophical one -- the team was middle of the pack in steal attempts in 2015 after ranking in the top eight in 2014.
It’s possible the acquisition of Segura was meant to correct the team’s flat-footed 2016. Leonys Martin, owner 24 swipes, was the only player due back who stole more than 7 bases for Seattle in 2016, so Segura may very well remain a very strong steals source, with Steamer projecting him for 24 steals.
How will Segura’s new home ballpark impact his fantasy prospects?
Safeco might still have a reputation for being pitcher friendly, but the park has played only slightly below average for righty homers and triples over the past two seasons, checking in almost dead average for right-handed singles and doubles. Yes, Arizona’s Chase Field grades as a plus for righty doubles and triples, but it plays only just above average for righty homers. In short, there doesn’t seem to be a ton to worry about here.
Value in Context
The problem for Segura in terms of fantasy value is that his strong, seemingly sustainable underlying numbers have not been lost on the draft community at large, so he’s likely going to cost you on draft day.
FantasyPros consensus rankings have him as a late sixth-round standard league pick, going off the board alongside stud closers Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman and solid starting pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka and Kyle Hendricks.
The table below gathers these players’ Steamer projections and average expert rank alongside Segura’s.
As our Matt Kupferle noted last week, Carpenter is a power upside play here, and Alex Bregman and Jason Kipnis are expected to have good seasons. And, of course, the prospect of a speed breakout from post-suspension Dee Gordon is not off the table, making him a tempting gamble at this price.
But for bankable five-category production, along with the potential difference-making upside in his steals and runs, Segura seems like a strong pick here, especially if he’s the cheapest, even if it's just by a hair.
Needless to say, if your league overreacts to the Safeco effect or sees Segura’s 2016 as a flash in the pan, jumping on Segura in the seventh or later should be an absolute no-brainer.