Welcome to another installment of Mortal Kombat, where we take two evenly matched players and have them square off against each other to find out who the better man is. This week we have a shortstop battle that should be interesting. With a few exceptions all the rankings I have looked at have Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez and Ian Desmond ranked 1-4 (although not always in that order). Jean Segura is the most common name for the fifth spot, but he did sneak into the top 4 on a few lists. Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN seems to be the lone Elvis Andrus fan out there ranking him 5th ahead of Segura, but overall Elvis is being ranked on all sites between 6th and 10th. Looking at the ADP for shortstops on CouchManagers, Segura is going 2 full rounds ahead of Andrus in mock drafts. Mock Draft Central’s ADP puts these two men even further apart with Segura coming in at 49 and Andrus ranking 83rd.
Is Segura getting extra love because he’s the new kid on the block? Are fantasy owners reaching for Segura? And the big question is, Is Segura really better than Elvis Andrus? Those are all fair questions, and hopefully when I’m done we’ll have some answers.
The winner of this one is simple, but we still have to go through the motions. Elvis hit 6 home runs his rookie season but hasn’t hit more than 5 since. With an average fly ball distance of 269.42 feet, a .074 ISO and a 57% groundball rate this isn’t going to change any time soon.
Segura hit 12 home runs last year but he had zero in the second half. You would think that a player with an average fly ball distance of 292 feet would be destined for more, but we’ll probably see less in 2014. Segura had an ISO of .129 last year which puts him in Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Murphy and Martin Prado territory. His 8.6% HR/FB rate was higher than all three of those players but so was his 60% groundball rate and his 22.5% fly ball rate was lower than all of them.
Segura may be the clear winner here, but if you’re expecting more than the 12 home runs he put up last year…think again
ADVANTAGE – SEGURA
RUNS BATTED IN
Just like with home runs this is an easy one to estimate for Elvis. In the past 3 years his RBI totals are 60, 62 and 67 so it’s safe to say you can pencil Elvis in for 62 RBI. Segura knocked in 49 runs last year. He was injured in September which would explain the 4 RBIs for that month, but he only had 3 RBIs in August and there were no excuses for that one. If we speculate and give Segura 10 RBIs for each of those months he ends in a tie with Elvis at 62, but we’re not going to play the “what if” game here. Instead let’s look at one of the biggest differences between these two men as far as RBI opportunities are concerned.
Elvis plays in the AL and gets one luxury Segura doesn’t; a designated hitter in the batting order. That extra hitter gives leadoff men in the AL a few more opportunities than their counterparts in the NL. This is one of the reasons why Andrus has managed to finish in the top 10 for RBIs in each of the past 3 years. The other reason Andrus finishes in the top 10 is his batting average with men on base. With the bases empty Elvis is a .259 hitter, but with runners on his BA is .298 (.296 with runners in scoring position). Segura is almost as good hitting .286 with runners on, but with runners in scoring position that average drops to .265 and dips further to .245 if there are 2 outs.
With both men either leading off or hitting second you’re not going to see more than 65 RBIs from either, but only one of them has been in that neighborhood for the past 3 years.
ADVANTAGE – ANDRUS
For the past four years Andrus has run totals of 88, 96, 85 and 91, that comes out to an average of 90 runs a year. The lineup has changed from year to year but Texas has been vigilant at keeping the order stacked with some big bats so another 90 run season is in the cards for Andrus. Segura scored 74 runs last year, but the lineup was missing a few key elements which come with some question marks. Ryan Braun will be back and while most predict he will return to form, we just don’t know. Aramis Ramirez also returns from injuries, but he turns 36 in June so there is a chance for regression. With the exception of Rickie Weeks scoring 112 runs in 2010, no other player in the past five years has scored more than 84 runs for the Brewers hitting in one of the top 2 spots of the lineup. Rickie also walked 76 times that year with an OBP of .366, two numbers Segura has little chance of coming near. On average every player hitting first or second for Milwaukee has scored 80 runs, and that includes several years of Braun and Fielder at their peak.
Segura has a chance to score 90 runs but Andrus WILL score 90.
ADVANTAGE – ANDRUS
On average, Andrus has stolen 33 bases a year for the past 5 years. He had a down year in 2012 stealing only 21, but he more than made that up to owners last year breaking the 40 plateau. Segura surpassed 40 stolen bases on his first try totaling 44 steals last year. He had 24 in the first 3 months and still managed 20 stolen bases over the next 3 months despite the drop in overall production. Andrus is capable of stealing more than 33 a year and has improved his SB%, while Segura could steal another 40 or he could regress as some sophomore’s do. Both players are in their prime running age and while Segura appears to have the edge, I’ll use this year’s projections as the determining factor.
ADVANTAGE – SEGURA
Andrus holds a career .274 BA, but he has made some big improvements over his first two years in the league when he hit .266. Over the past three years Andrus has averaged a .282 BA. He has zero splits as his career home/away and lefty/righty averages are almost identical, and his walk and strikeout totals are also identical from year to year. While the average can fluctuate a few points either way, a batting average in the .280 range is what you can expect from Elvis.
Segura batted .311 in the minors and .294 last year, but last season’s average is a little deceiving. He hit .354 for the first two months of the season, but that was mainly due to adrenaline and excitement so don’t expect to see that again. The final two months he hit .240 but that can be contributed to exhaustion and an injury. The .279 he averaged for June and July though, that’s right around what you should expect for Segura. That number isn’t far off from some of the early projections and his BABIP from June through August would support those claims. Segura is slightly better against lefties and on the road, but his average against right handed pitchers and at home is good enough that owners don’t have to worry about any sort of platoon problems in the future. For 2014, expect an average somewhere in the .280 range.
ADVANTAGE AND WINNER – NONE
I’m sure these aren’t the results Segura owners were looking for so before you go all ballistic and start shouting *expletive deleted*, let’s discuss this like rational adults. Yes Segura has upside, but upside doesn’t mean immediate results. Segura could take a step forward and hit close to .300, but he could also regress like many second year players do and hit .265. A higher BA could result in more runs, but a lower batting average combined with a low walk total would have the opposite results. Segura could buck the trend and produce higher than normal RBI totals at the top of the lineup, but he would need everything to fall into place for that to happen.
Elvis is the safe pick, you basically know what to expect when you draft him so there is no excitement there. Segura is the upside pick, but there is a hung jury when it comes to what to expect from his this year. The question is, do the risks outweigh the rewards? Like I said in the beginning, Segura is being selected 2 full rounds before Elvis. That’s a lot of risk taking a shortstop in the third round when you can easily get the same production from a similar shortstop in the fifth or sixth round.
Looking at a random mock draft, Segura was taken in the third round ahead of players like Jay Bruce, Shin-Soo Choo, Adam Wainwright, Matt Kemp and Max Scherzer. Elvis Andrus wasn’t selected until round 6 and could have been had by that same team, but instead they selected David Price. Which combination has more value, Jean Segura and David Price or Wainwright/Choo/Bruce and Elvis Andrus? It’s not that Segura is a bad shortstop, but he’s really not better than Andrus and the slight upside for 2014 doesn’t increase his value enough to support his current ADP. If you’re in a 12 team league and you’re taking Segura anytime before the fourth round, you’re taking a gamble and potentially losing out on a better player at another position.
I love Segura and I own him in one of my keeper leagues. If you’re looking for a long-term investment, both men are good options but Segura is the better player to own for his potential upside. If you’re just looking for 2014, let someone else reach for Segura and grab Andrus a few rounds later; you’ll have a better team for it.
Do you have a few players that you would like to see featured here? Just leave your suggestions in the comments section below or send them to me on twitter @TheJimFinch