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2021 player preview: Jean Segura

Can the Phillies’ second baseman raise his game back to an All-Star level?

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Tampa Bay Rays
Jean Segura has been fine, but not an All-Star with the Phillies
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

In Jean Segura’s first season with the Phillies, he played shortstop, and was slightly below average both with the bat and in the field. In his second season, he moved to both third and second base where he was slightly above average in both areas. Considering the strength of the lineup around him, the Phillies can live with an average player at second base. But considering that he was a two-time All-Star before coming to the Phillies, he’s still been a bit of a disappointment overall.

What could go right in 2021?

The Phillies were unhappy with Segura’s defense at shortstop in his first season with the team. As a result, they acquired Didi Gregorius before the 2020 season, and shifted Segura to third base. There was some question about how his glove would translate, but he turned out to be a solid defender. Upon the callup of Alec Bohm, Segura saw the majority of his playing time come at second base, and he once again excelled. He should continue to be a plus defender no matter where he plays.

Segura had an unusual season at the plate, as he was much more of a “three true outcomes” hitter than ever before. His home run, walk, and strikeout percentages all saw large increases from the season prior, resulting in a dip in batting average, but a rise in on-base percentage.

That was partly by design, as Segura focused on walking more. However, Segura was a .300 hitter in the three seasons before joining the Phillies. If he can cut down his strikeouts, and make better contact, he could conceivably raise his batting average back to that realm. He could also re-establish himself as a threat to steal bases. He used to regularly steal over 20 bases a season, but last year he only attempted four steals - and was unsuccessful on half of them.

What could go wrong in 2021?

Perhaps Segura’s numbers in 2020 were simply the result of him proactively taking a more patient approach. But its also possible that his bat speed has slowed. While an increase in power is always welcome, with reports that MLB has deadened the ball for the 2021 season, there’s a real concern that some of those fly balls won’t be clearing the fences this year.

The existence of Scott Kingery also adds a complication. Kingery has done nothing in his career - and definitely nothing thus far in Spring Training - to justify having any faith in him, but the Phillies haven’t yet given up on the former prospect whose natural position happens to be second base. If Segura starts out slowly, and Kingery shows any signs of life, there might be a shift, with Segura sliding into more of an infield utility role.

What to expect

Since the overall result was positive, I don’t expect Segura to get away from his more patient approach of 2020. With that in mind, his days as a .300 hitter are probably over. I am slightly concerned that the deadened ball will indeed reduce his power output, so overall, I expect a slight downturn in his numbers. He’ll still be a non-liability in the lineup - which is perfectly fine for a good defensive middle infielder - but a return to All-Star level seems unrealistic at this point.