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Can Jean Segura deal with third base?

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As Fish Stripes’ personal Alex Krutchik detailed final week, Jean Segura’s match with the Miami Marlins is a bit unconventional. Segura has been a full-time second baseman because the starting of 2021, a place already accounted for by the crew’s greatest hitter, Jazz Chisholm Jr. With loads of time nonetheless remaining between now and Opening Day, maybe the Marlins will full trades that make their items match collectively extra seamlessly. Within the meantime, we’re left to imagine that the veteran will relocate to 3rd base.

“The Marlins imagine he will likely be high-quality there,” Craig Mish and Barry Jackson just lately reported for the Miami Herald. They included quotes from an nameless scout, who complimented Segura’s arms and arm power whereas cautioning that he wants an adjustment interval to get used to “seeing the ball off the bat” from a unique vantage level.

I feel this topic deserves a deeper dive.

MLB Monitor File and Ability Set

Segura has prior third base expertise. All 24 video games and 179 23 innings of it got here throughout the 2020 MLB season. That pattern measurement by itself is just not giant sufficient to information us to any definitive conclusions. For what it is price, he was credited with 1 DRS (defensive runs saved) and 1 OAA (outs above common), with two errors dedicated in 55 complete probabilities.

Earlier than getting again to Segura’s glovework, here is a quick apart about why his place change is important.

In 2021, MLB second basemen mixed for a 98 wRC+ (100 represents league common) in comparison with a 101 wRC+ for third basemen. The hole between the positions was even wider final season: 99 wRC+ for second basemen vs. 105 wRC+ for third basemen. That’s largely attributable to over-the-fence energy—throughout these two years mixed, third basemen hit 25% extra dwelling runs. Second basemen partially compensated for that with superior baserunning, stealing 60% extra bases (albeit at a barely decrease success fee). Total, there’s a better offensive burden placed on third basemen.

Coming into his age-33 season, Segura supplies much less worth along with his legs than he used to. He’s constantly good hitter, however hasn’t had a wRC+ greater than 10% above league common since 2017, so there is a restricted ceiling on what you possibly can realistically count on from him when it comes to run manufacturing. For the Marlins to be fully happy with Segura as their major starter at third base, he’ll should be an efficient defender.

Similar to the aforementioned scout, I am curious how Segura will fare in conditions that check his response time. Do not forget that infield shifting is being restricted starting subsequent season with fielders required to arrange on the infield filth. After getting used as a second baseman in a shift-whenever-you-want world, he should put together for a a lot completely different project.

Because of Baseball Savant, we will run searches involving performs that used “normal” infield alignments. In 2022, the typical beginning depth for MLB third basemen in a regular setting was 115 toes from dwelling plate. In the meantime, the beginning depth for second basemen was 151 toes.

After rewatching most of Segura’s adventures at third base from 2020, I sewed collectively clips of those 10 performs that put his response time to the check, accounting for his positioning and the batted ball’s exit velocity:

The outcomes have been combined. Nevertheless, protected at the least appears like he belongs at third base due to his arm power. Final season, the typical velocity of his hardest throws from him was 86.5 miles per hour, in keeping with Baseball Savant. That put him squarely between Matt Chapman (87.3 mph) and Ryan McMahon (85.8 mph), each of whom are famend for taking part in nice protection on the sizzling nook.

Segura’s signature play is diving to his left, popping as much as his toes and gunning the ball to first. I executed it twice in the same night to rob hits from opposing batters throughout Philadelphia’s postseason run. There are exceptions just like the one embedded close to the highest of the article, however sadly, he will not get as many alternatives to do this at third as he did at second—it takes too lengthy for the play to unfold when it’s important to throw all the way in which throughout the diamond.

Precedent for Segura to Comply with

Asdrubal Cabrera #3 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on during the sixth inning against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on August 28, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

Photograph by Julio Aguilar/Getty Pictures

There are quite a few examples of full-time center infielders transitioning to 3rd base throughout the center or latter half of their MLB careers, most notably Cal Ripken Jr. and Alex Rodriguez. It goes with out saying, Ripken and Rodriguez are unhelpful comps for Segura contemplating their measurement and generational expertise.

I would say Segura’s journey largely carefully mirrors that of Asdrúbal Cabrera. Cabrera acquired his toes moist at third base halfway by means of 2017—his age-31 season—and spent 246 video games there over his last 5 MLB campaigns. I’ve produced -9 DRS and a couple of OAA. Michael Younger is a cautionary story, ranking as arguably the league’s worst defensive third baseman after making the transfer at age 32. His ability stage was n’t as excessive as Segura’s, although.

The best state of affairs for the Marlins is that Segura performs third base on an on a regular basis foundation, as a result of that may indicate Chisholm is wholesome sufficient and improved sufficient in opposition to left-handed pitching to lock down day by day second base duties. Nevertheless, Chisholm’s damage historical past necessitates that the membership spend money on a backup plan. With Segura, the Marlins are much better ready to climate a Jazz IL stint than they have been in 2022.

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