Jean Segura's six-hit night another sign his star is on the rise
On Tuesday night, Jean Segura became the first major leaguer in nearly four years and the first Brewer in nearly 20 to collect six hits in a game. Segura went 6-for-7 in the 14-inning marathon, which lasted four hours and 43 minutes before the Twins won 6-5. All of Segura's hits were singles, one of which tied the game in the bottom of the ninth that sent things into extra frames.
According to the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index, 97 hitters have collected six hits in a game since 1916, roughly one per year. Fifty-eight of those 97 did so in nine innings or less, 57 of which were on the winning side — it takes a major offensive outburst to get to the plate six times in nine innings, let alone collect six hits. Including the ones in extra innings, only 19 have done the job while winding up on the losing side as Segura did; the last of them was Nomar Garciaparra for the Red Sox on June 21, 2003.
The last major leaguer to collect six hits regardless of result was Adrian Gonzalez for the Padres on Aug. 11, 2009 against the Brewers; he was one of three players to do so that year, the others being Ian Kinsler (April 15, Rangers against Orioles) and Freddy Sanchez (May 25, Pirates against Cubs). The only other Brewers to do so were Johnny Briggs (Aug. 4, 1973 against the Indians) and Kevin Reimer (Aug. 24, 1993 against the A's).
Segura collected his hits off four different Twins pitchers: three off starter Scott Diamond in the first, fourth and fifth innings, and then one apiece off Josh Roenicke (seventh), Glen Perkins (ninth) and Brian Duensing (14th); he was forced out at second base immediately after the latter, ending the game. The only pitcher to retire him was Anthony Swarzak, in the 11th inning. Here's the montage of Segura's hits from MLB.com:
The outburst lifted the 23-year-old shortstop's batting average to a league-leading .365, but it's hardly an empty average; he's fourth in on-base percentage (.400) and eighth in slugging percentage (.569), higher than teammate Ryan Braun in both categories. Not only does Segura have eight home runs, but he also has a league-leading five triples. He's second with 14 steals in 16 attempts, a count that includes one of the season's more entertaining bloopers on April 19 — a mistake so strange that it required a manual intervention in the annals of Baseball-Reference.com to explain what happened:
In the Bottom of the 8th, Jean Segura became very, very confused. Segura reached and then stole second. Ryan Braun then walked. Segura was picked off second and in the process of the rundown both baserunners ended up on second. Braun is out automatically. Segura had been tagged while safely on the base and started towards the first base dugout thinking he was out. After he realized his gaffe, he ran and stood on first base safely. Rules do not permit intentional returns to first, but mistakes like this are allowed. Segura was then caught trying to steal second for a second time in the inning. Our software (having never seen this play before) is currently incapable of scoring this as a single play, so we show Segura at 2nd after the play, then "advancing" to first base, and then caught stealing at second (C-2B). MLB.com video.
Even with that mess, he's fourth in the league among NL position players with 2.8 Wins Above Replacement (B-Ref version).
Segura himself looks like a steal. Signed by the Angels out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, he was one of three players acquired by Milwaukee last July 27 — three days after his major league debut — in exchange for Zack Greinke. Despite having played just 102 games at Double-A and seven at Triple-A (those back in 2009) before making the jump to the majors, he took over the Brewers' starting shortstop duties on Aug. 6, and hit a relatively thin .264/.321/.331 the rest of the way.
What he did do during that time was convince Milwaukee he could stick at shortstop by showing improvements in his range. Save for a random appearance in right field in a rookie league, Segura played exclusively at second base up through 2010; he began the conversion in the Arizona Fall League late that year, and played regularly there at High-A in 2011. He managed to stay healthy only intermittently, playing just 115 games from 2007-2009 due to ankle and finger injuries, but even amid those, he had put himself on the prospect radar thanks to his bat and his speed, ranking 57th on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list prior to the 2011 season, and 35th on Baseball Prospectus' list. Even with only 52 games played in 2011 due to a hamstring strain, he was 55th on the former and 67th on the latter going into last season. Healthy now, Segura is showing off the tools and skills that so tantalized scouts. He's likely to cool off at least somewhat — his .395 batting average on balls in play will be tough to maintain — but he could accompany Braun and Carlos Gomez to New York for the All-Star Game in July. In the meantime, he's giving the Brewers (19-31, fifth in the NL Central) and their fans something to take their minds off the team's struggles, and he's an exciting player who should be a cornerstone of Milwaukee's lineup for years to come.