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We often hear about second-half players, guys who traditionally struggle early in the season and pick it up once the weather heats up. Aramis Ramirez and Adam LaRoche are two oft-cited examples of this archetype, with Ian Desmond being a more current reference point. As fantasy owners, we focus on these types of players because they’re “buy-low” candidates every summer.

On the flipside, though, there are players like Jean Segura, who sprints out of the gate every year, only to tire as the season progresses. The narrative surrounding Segura is that he’s a flash-in-the-pan who has fallen off a cliff since dominating in early 2013. Hell, many people made the argument that the Arizona Diamondbacks were foolish for acquiring him, that the club would’ve been better off starting an in-house option like Nick Ahmed. That contention has issues, as it privileges certain defensive statistics over others that may present conflicting data, but no one is talking about that anymore because Segura is hitting .407/.429/.889 with two doubles, a triple, and three home runs after the first week of the season.

Although the 26-year-old shortstop won’t channel his inner Ted Williams and flirt with .400 for the whole season, his scorching-hot start has skyrocketed his ownership rates by over 42 percentage points on ESPN. He’s now owned in over three-fourths of leagues. Fantasy owners are scooping him up off the waiver wire and others are probably wondering if they should be selling high on the former Brewers’ shortstop.

Segura has a long history of performing well in April and May in his career:

Month

AVG

OBP

SLG

April

.308

.344

.469

May

.311

.344

.458

June

.227

.251

.321

July

.258

.297

.322

August

.243

.278

.289

September

.270

.314

.368

From the spring to the summer, Segura transforms from superstar to replacement-level dud. Those numbers aren’t inflated from his tremendous 2013 campaign, either. He hit .279/.303/.360 and .286/.344/.482 in April and May, respectively, last year—only to scuffle under .250 in three of the next four months.

In this way, it’s tempting to make a “sell-high” argument for Segura. We’ve seen this kind of hot start before—well, maybe not this kind, but it’s only been a week—and we know the frigid spell that’s looming over the horizon. Judging by his career splits, which consists of almost 2000 plate appearances, fantasy owners would be wise to cut bait in a few weeks and sell high while people are momentarily interested in Segura.

I’m not sure it’s that simple. The 5-foot-10 speedster has shown up in spring training with a renewed focus on improving his swing mechanics the past couple of years. It’s something I’ve written about before, but the short version of the story is this: Segura’s “new” swing mechanics stay with him for a couple of months and deteriorate as he tires in the summer. To put this in golf terminology, the Diamondbacks shortstop regresses into bad habits as his body and mind wear down over the course of a 162-game season.

Because of this, I’ve always thought that Segura has chance to sustain a high level of performance throughout an entire year. It’s just about consistency, about sticking with his mechanical adjustments and not reverting to bad habits. It’s not easy, but he is only 26 years old. The development curve suggests that he’s still learning and growing as a hitter, poised to hit his prime in the coming years.

For fantasy owners, Segura benefits from one of the best hitting environments in baseball in Arizona. That’s important, but I don’t think it’s markedly different than Miller Park and shouldn’t be used as an explanation for his early-season success with the Diamondbacks. Instead, it’s all about how well he can stave off the bad habits. If he does it the whole year, he’s an easy top-10 fantasy shortstop and one of the steals of the season. If he begins drifting and losing the leverage in his swing, he’ll once again be an early-season stalwart who petered out after the All-Star Break.

BUYER’S ADVICE: SELL

There’s a chance that Segura is a top-10 fantasy shortstop from here until the end of the season. I’ve just seen this film too many times before to believe that this is the year he finally discovers the consistency needed to be an above-average hitter for 162 games. I think it’s wisest to ride Segura’s bat for a couple more weeks and then sell him before the months get warmer. As the season drags on, he’s shown that his swing mechanics degrade. His early success isn’t any indication that he’s “found it” or that his move to Arizona changed his fortunes. It’s just more of the same. The question is whether you’re willing to gamble that this is finally the year that he doesn’t experience a swoon from June through September, and that isn’t my kind of gamble.

Thank you for reading

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bpsinger
4/12
JP, do you have the email address of the D' backs' hitting coach?
SlackerGeorge
4/12
Might want to mention zero walks as well.
jrbdmb
5/10
Agreed on no walks, but he doesn't strike out a ton either. I'm holding if only because the alternatives out there pretty much look like Segura in a bad month.