The Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners completed a trade late Wednesday night.
And there it is: Arizona gets Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte for Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger and Zac Curtis. Strong play by D-backs new crew.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 24, 2016
The most notable name for fantasy owners is Jean Segura, who finished 27th overall in Yahoo 5x5 last season.
Segura had a massive breakout in Arizona, with his park adjusted wRC+ rising from the mid 60s in 2014 and 2015 to an outstanding 126 last year, a rise of about 60%. Segura’s 126 wRC+ ranked 7th best among all 2B, and was 25% better than the league average 2B.
Segura made better contact quality in 2016 to fuel those results. Andrew Perpetua’s Statcast derived xStats, which takes into account the exit velocities and angles of Segura’s batted balls, had Segura’s xOPS jump from .640 in 2015 to .813 in 2016. His xBA rose from .262 to .292, although it should be noted that xBA does not take into account his speed, which should give that a boost.
What appears to be behind this was a mechanical change at the plate. An executive told Fox Sports this past April,
“Segura looks unreal,” the exec said. “They may have made a great deal there. He lowered his hands and is hitting rockets everywhere.”
“Now with my hands lower, I don’t have to go down and then go up to hit the ball. I go directly to the ball,” Segura said. “I do everything in one motion instead of doing it three times. When I attacked the ball with my hands up, I had to go down, go up again and swing.”
Whether or not Segura continues to produce like an above average hitter going forward is up for debate, but his solid contact quality and tangible mechanical change points towards his 2016 improvements being legitimate rather than fluke.
Despite the improvements in contact quality, Segura’s power numbers will probably go down in 2017 moving from Arizona to Seattle. Arizona is one of the best hitter’s parks in the game, largely because it has the second highest park elevation behind Coors Field. Historically, Seattle has been a difficult place to hit home runs, although it should be noted that SafeCo had a top 3 home run park factor last year and had the most home runs in baseball at 234. I am not buying into SafeCo as a home run haven just yet, though.
I don’t think Segura will be a 20 home run middle infielder again in 2017, but I’m buying him as an above average hitter and 30+ stolen base threat.