Without a doubt the most pleasant surprise of this young Arizona Diamondbacks season is the play of infielder Jean Segura.
Entering Tuesday, the 26-year-old who was acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers over the offseason is batting .352 with four home runs, 15 RBI, a .379 on-base percentage and three stolen bases. Playing primarily at second base and batting leadoff, he has performed at a level even the most optimistic of people could not have anticipated.
Over at ESPN.com, baseball writer Jerry Crasnick put together a piece where he rated 10 of MLB’s new leadoff hitters, and to say he has been impressed by Segura would be putting it mildly. On a scale of one to five baseballs (with five being the best), the D-back gets five.
Crasnick notes how Segura has replaced a combination of Ender Inciarte (traded to Atlanta) and A.J. Pollock (injured) atop the batting order, and has carried his torrid pace over from Cactus League play into the regular season.
Segura, who went through a major personal crisis with the death of his 9-month-old son in 2014, looks a lot like the dynamic player who made an All-Star team with Milwaukee in 2013. He made a significant change in his stance in the offseason, dropping his hands at the behest of former big-league outfielder Luis Mercedes during winter workouts in the Dominican Republic. Segura has also found a comfort zone in Arizona with the help of catcher Welington Castillo and coaches Ariel Prieto and Dave Magadan, all of whom speak fluent Spanish.
The Diamondbacks have given Segura the freedom to be himself, which means letting the bat head fly and ripping balls to the gap. Segura’s two walks in 95 plate appearances are a tad worrisome. But if he can give the Snakes a .330 OBP with 40-50 extra base hits, he’ll fulfill his mandate in Arizona.
The 2013 season in which Segura made the All-Star team saw him bat .294 with 12 home runs, 49 RBI and 44 stolen bases. He did much of his damage early in the season, though, with 11 of the home runs and 36 of the RBI coming before the All-Star break, so hot starts are not necessarily new to him.
However, if the changes he’s made in his batting stance along with the comfort level he’s found in Arizona have led to his turnaround, it’s possible the Diamondbacks may very well have solidified their leadoff spot for years to come.
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