Over the course of the past few seasons, MLB has seen a new generation of exciting shortstops emerge with the likes of Atlanta Braves‘ Andrelton Simmons and Chicago Cubs‘ Starlin Castro both making significant contributions to their respective clubs. Gone are the days when shortstop was a position in which offense was overlooked, and the new crop of young and exciting players typically blend speed and power, making them as important offensively as any corner infield spot.
In 2012, the Los Angeles Angels and Milwaukee Brewers were experiencing very different circumstances by the trade deadline. On July 27, the teams constructed a deal that the Angels now live to regret, as they traded SS Jean Segura amongst others to Milwaukee in exchange for SP Zack Greinke, only to lose Greinke the following season in free agency to their cross-town rival Los Angeles Dodgers.
Segura would only play 44 games for the Brewers in 2012, and was less than dynamic to say the least. He batted .264 with 0 HR and 14 RBIs, and the Angles were lauded for pulling off perhaps the heist of the century despite Greinke’s lackluster performance in Anaheim.
In 2013, Segura was given the opportunity to play everyday, and would sing quite a different tune than he did the season prior. His season, however, was overshadowed by the seemingly never-ending saga unraveling with his teammate Ryan Braun. That said, those who were paying attention witnessed an impressive rookie campaign in which he hit .294 with 12 HRs and 49 RBIs.
Although he struggled to draw walks, which limited his OBP to a mediocre .329, Segura would take advantage of his opportunities on the basepaths as he stole 44 bases, making it rare to see him on first base considering his prowess for doubles (20) and triples (10). Any way you want to slice the pie, 42 extra-base hits is impressive for a shortstop in his first full season, especially since he was scouted to be a glorified base-stealer as a prospect and played on a struggling club.
Thus far, Segura is getting the respect his play warrants going into the 2014 season, ranking as the fourth SS with an average draft position of 38th across many sites. There is a big dropoff after the first two ranked shortstops, Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki. Segura is sandwiched between the Washington Nationals‘ Ian Desmond and Toronto Blue Jays‘ Jose Reyes.
Many will agonize over the choice of the three during those two minutes of allotted time between picks, but you should not and pick Segura with confidence. Desmond has been highly inconsistent throughout his young career, and at times looked like he has no interest to be on the field. Reyes — although dynamic when healthy — is as brittle as cotton-candy and can not be relied on to last the season.