Jean Segura has been slump-proof in his first season with Mariners
More often than not, Jean Segura makes an addition to the hit column on a given day. In fact, he uses his bat to get on base so often that it was news to his manager that the Mariners shortstop actually went hitless in back-to-back games at one point earlier in the season.
“I don’t remember that. When was that?” Servais responded.
It was May 19 and 20, but that’s not really important. What is important is how well the 27-year-old Segura has performed in his first season in Seattle, serving as the leadoff hitter when he hasn’t been injured. He’s hitting .349 with six home runs, 29 RBIs, 41 runs scored, nine stolen bases, a .390 on-base percentage and .872 OPS, and his early returns were enough for the franchise to lock him down with a five-year contract extension last month – even though he was out of action at the time with a high ankle sprain.
A pair of stints on the disabled list – he also missed time in May with a hamstring strain – are the only thing putting a damper on Segura’s season. He would lead the majors in batting average if those DL trips hadn’t robbed him of 30 games worth of plate appearances, and he’d almost assuredly be in Miami this week enjoying his second All-Star selection as a result. Instead, he has some extra time to rest the ankle and get ready to help the Mariners make a push for the playoffs.
As for when he’s been healthy enough to be in the lineup, he’s been a machine at the plate.
“Very impressed,” Servais said of Segura’s first season with the Mariners. “Seems like he gets a hit each night. At least one.”
The Mariners’ biggest offseason acquisition, coming over in a blockbuster trade from the Diamondbacks after leading the National League in hits last season, Segura has been reminiscent of another high-profile addition that arrived in Seattle at 27 years old to be their leadoff hitter: Ichiro Suzuki.
Like Ichiro in 2001, Segura is establishing himself as one of the best top-of-the-order players in the game, and one who doesn’t discriminate when it comes to what pitches he will hit and where he will hit them. That’s a big reason why Segura has the most hits through 60 games in a season as any Mariners player besides Ichiro.
“It’s not just one pitch that he hits. Some guys are really good fastball hitters, some guys wait on the breaking ball very well. He hits them all,” Servais said of Segura. “He’s not a guy that’s going to sit there and dissect pitching sequences – ‘How’s this guy gonna work me?'”
While Segura’s approach may seem Ichiro-esque to fans in the Pacific Northwest, it reminds Servais of a superstar teammate he had in the 1990s with the Chicago Cubs.
“I played with Sammy Sosa for a long time – the good Sammy Sosa,” Servais said. “I played with him before when he would swing at everything, and then he finally got the point; he was like, ‘I don’t care what they throw, they have to throw it over the plate.’ Different perspective. I was never dialed that way, but when I look at Jean Segura, that’s kinda how (he approaches hitting).”
There are a few other factors Servais points to in Segura staying relatively slump-proof. One, he has short arms, which allows him to be quick to the ball, and two, he has impressive control over the lower half of his body.
“What he does really, really well is he stays square to the plate. A lot of guys will fly open, they’ll leak. … Somehow his lower half stays very square to the plate for a long time. That’s how he’s able to use the whole field. The line drives down the right-field line, how does he do that? Because he’s always square to the plate. And when you do that, the ball gets deeper, and you can hit it more consistent.”
With any luck, the Mariners will benefit from that consistency at the plate even more after the All-Star break than they did before it.