After a five-run first inning, there weren’t many highlights in the Brewers 7-5 loss to the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. One of the bright spots, however, was Jean Segura‘s defense.
He robbed Paul Goldschmidt of a hit with a backhanded diving stop-and-throw for the first out in the sixth inning and recorded the inning’s third out on another nice play on a Martin Prado ground ball.
In a season that hasn’t been so kind to Segura at the plate (.248/.274/.358), is he coming around defensively?
Before we look at where Segura currently sits, it’s important to look back to track his progress.
In 2011, the Angels moved Segura from second base to shortstop. His inexperience showed at times during his 2012 rookie test-run with the Brewers. He finished, after 45 games, -2.4 runs below replacement (per FanGraphs) and with a dWAR (from Baseball-Reference, calculated from defensive runs saved) of 0.1.
Over 2012 and 2013, Segura’s RZR (Revised Zone Rating, a simplified version of DRS and UZR that takes into account how many plays in a fielder’s range were made) was .769, which was tied for 18th of 21 shortstops with a minimum of 1500 innings.
The defensive metrics from Baseball Prospectus indicate that Segura has improved and is no longer a liability, but a strength at shortstop. Last season, they valued him at 23.5 FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average). His range and arm improved over the course of his second season in the majors to go along with his instincts and natural feel for the position. Before Tuesday night’s game, Segura was listed at 2.3 FRAA.
That said, Segura still has quite a ways to go to reach the elite level of defensive shortstops. He ranks 19th among 28 qualified shortstops on “routine” plays by Inside Edge Fielding. As we saw Tuesday night, Segura will flash his quickness and athleticism for a handful of spectacular plays that he wouldn’t have been able to make two years ago, but, in this fourth season at the position there is still work to be done going forth.