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About Last Night: Jean Segura’s Speed Sap

Jean Jean the hitting machine needs to maybe stop trying to be a running machine too

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Washington Nationals
we like you anyway Jean I promise
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Hamstring injuries, like the least interesting guests at your party, tend to linger. You think you’ve shoved them out the door but alas Mary hasn’t finished her drink yet or someone forgets a coat upstairs and then it’s ten more minutes of banality, and then ten more, and then ten more...but enough about the 2017 Mariners season. A couple days ago, Jeff Zimmerman examined the home to first times across the league and noted that Jean Segura’s have gone from 3.96 seconds in 2016 to 4.18 in 2017, or a drop from “elite” status to “near league average.” He has five stolen bases, but has been caught five times, which are not good numbers. In contrast, Jarrod Dyson has stolen 13 bases, and been caught just twice. (Just for funsies: minor league speedster Ian Miller has stolen 20, and been caught twice, which for him is a number he’s mad about, as last year he stole 49 bases and was only caught three times.) Taylor Motter has only stolen four bases, but he has been caught no times. Zero. Perhaps this is because opposing batteries find themselves only able to admire Motter’s golden mane flowing across the base paths like it’s “Colors of the Wind.” Probably it’s because he’s picking really good pitches to run on and taking calculated risks while mostly playing it safe. But maybe the Pocahontas thing, too.

The reason I was inspired to look up Segura’s base running was because of a double play yesterday that particularly stuck with me. The Mariners have struggled to put baserunners on lately, and when baserunners do make the Everest-like trek to first base, they seem to very often get wiped out by double play balls. Jean Segura worked a walk to start off yesterday’s game, which is something he doesn’t do all that much—although that’s a different post. But. “What’s that you say? A runner on first? Would be a shame if someone—”

“Did the old ‘strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out,’ eh?”

Bless Guillermo’s heart a million different ways here for trying to not look like he’s interfering with the catcher while simultaneously interfering all over him. But I digress. Batters have about a 60% chance of stealing successfully off Gio Gonzalez; Jose Lobaton is about league average in throwing out runners. This is a situation that mostly reads as a push, although the change isn’t a bad pitch to run on, and that’s before you factor in Guillermo doing his modern dance “Man Catches Sleeve On Door Handle” in front of it. It’s certainly a nice pick and tag by fine player/yucky human Daniel Murphy. Overall, the chances here feel about even, if not slightly in favor of the Mariners. But being aggressive here cost the Mariners a precious baserunner, which would be in short supply on this day (as it’s seemed, lately, they have been on most days). It’s important to note that this was a close play, as was the one in Toronto that had to go to replay review. Unfortunately, the result was the same both times.

Is Segura’s struggle to steal successfully related to his hamstring injury? It’s hard to say definitively, but base stealing relies on raw speed and an explosive first move (“good jump”), both things that can be compromised with hamstring injuries. Since MLB camera angles tend to be reactive, there’s not great footage (that I can find) of Segura getting his jump so we can analyze that. But we can say this: right now, Segura isn’t finding success when he steals, and not only is that costing an offensively struggling team outs, he’s also putting himself at risk for injury every time, especially if he’s running on a less-than-100% leg. The team absolutely cannot handle another major injury. It’s time for Segura to cool his jets.