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Can the Phillies survive without Jean Segura?

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Segura is likely to miss three weeks after suffering a groin strain.

MLB: JUN 14 Phillies at Dodgers Photo by John McCoy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Phillies second baseman Jean Segura will miss about three weeks with a grade 1 groin strain that he suffered on June 16. This is a hard pill to swallow, seeing as Segura is in the middle of his best offensive season since the Phillies acquired him. He was playing particularly well in June (.372/.426/.488), leading the Phillies to an 8-4 record before his injury. His win probability added (WPA) in those twelve games was 0.84, which ranked second in the National League over that time period.

In addition to an impressive June, Jean Segura has been one of the best players on the Phillies all year long. His on-base percentage (.379) and slugging percentage (.465) are very similar to both Bryce Harper’s (.389, .471) and J.T. Realmuto’s (.392, .463), and his batting average (.332) is the highest on the team by a wide margin. He’s been worth 1.2 BsR (base running), which ranks second on the team, and 4 defensive outs above average, which is tied for first.

All this to say, Jean Segura is a great player in the middle of an excellent season, and the Phillies are a better team whenever he takes the field. And yet, for some reason, the Phillies’ win-loss record doesn't reflect that. The team is 22-27 in games Segura has played in, and 11-7 in games he has missed. During Segura’s first stint on the injured list this season (April 21-May 6), the Phillies went 9-6.

There isn’t a simple explanation as to why the Phillies have done so well without Jean Segura (other than small sample size randomness). Nick Maton has been the most frequent replacement for Segura at second base, and while he has filled in admirably, he hasn’t played nearly as well as Jean himself. And while Segura’s first IL stint coincided with some major roster moves, neither of those moves can explain why the Phillies played so well during that stretch. Matt Moore was taken out of the rotation after his start on April 17, but the Phillies were actually 2-1 in games Moore started, and they were also 2-1 in Vince Velasquez’s first three starts in Moore’s place. Odubel Herrera got called up while Segura was injured, but Herrera stunk for his first handful of games, so that clearly wasn’t the difference maker either.

The only noteworthy explanation I could find as to why the Phillies played so well without Jean Segura is that, during the time he was injured, four important Phillies stepped up and played just a little bit better. Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Brad Miller, and Zack Wheeler were all hot for the 15 games that Segura missed, and that was enough to fill the Jean-sized hole in the Phillies roster.

Who stepped up while Segura was injured?

Player Full Season April 21-May 6
Player Full Season April 21-May 6
Bryce Harper 137 wRC+ 170 wRC+
Rhys Hoskins 107 wRC+ 117 wRC+
Brad Miller 106 wRC+ 136 wRC+
Zack Wheeler 2.15 ERA 1.88 ERA

J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Zach Eflin, and Aaron Nola were all valuable over that stretch too, but no more valuable than they’ve been the rest of the season. Similarly, Alec Bohm and Didi Gregorius played quite poorly over that stretch, but that’s been the case all season for those two.

Segura is probably going to miss another 15-20 games, but the 2021 Phillies have already proven that they can survive without him for that long. Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and Brad Miller have all been struggling mightily as of late, and if those three can return to their regular production levels (or better), it would make Segura’s absence much less noticeable. On the pitching side, Aaron Nola and Hector Neris are two big names who could really help the team by getting hot. Didi Gregorius is also likely to return soon, and if his elbow issues are indeed all resolved, he can provide an additional spark to the lineup.

Jean Segura’s injury is bad for the Phillies. I don’t mean to suggest it’s not. But if just a few other guys can step up over the next several weeks, Segura’s absence won’t hamper the team too badly. The Phillies have enough talented players that they can still try to catch the Mets before the All-Star break, even with their second baseman on the injured list.