Jean Segura is the Best Shortstop Playing Right Now

Have you ever heard of Jean Segura?  If you haven’t, you are not alone.  The 22-year old shortstop of the Milwaukee Brewers  is fighting to keep his team out of last place in the National League Central.  The Brewers have been beset by both injury (Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart who is now done for the season) and ineffectiveness (ace Yovani Gallardo has an ERA hovering near 4.50).   Because of his market, nary a soul outside Milwaukee has been paying attention to this phenom as evidenced by his third place showing in the voting for the All Star Game at his position.  There is one other thing you should realize.

Learn the name Jean Segura.  He is just getting warmed up.  Image:  jsonline.com

Learn the name Jean Segura. He is just getting warmed up. Image: jsonline.com

Jean Segura is the best shortstop in the game right now.

Sure, you may clamor for the now oft-injured Troy Tulowitzki.  You may think it is the wonderous Hanley Ramirez, wonderful for his offense but wonder-awful for his many mental lapses on the field.   Give me Segura who is having an MVP-type season despite all of the issues surrounding his club.  He ranks in the top five in many National League offensive categories including hits (first with 113), batting average (fourth at .323) and triples (second with eight).  He also 12th in runs scored with 50.  When you combine his age and huge upside, there is no other shortstop I would want right now.  Think about the Los Angeles Angels who traded him last season to the Brew Crew for Zack Greinke and have nothing to show for it.  Erick Aybar is a nice player for the Angels but clearly it is Milwaukee who is benefitting tremendously from LA’s generosity.

The Brewers may want to think about locking up Segura long-term.  There is a certain team in New York that will be needing a shortstop in a couple of years.

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The Miami Marlins, the scorn of the offseason and a laughingstock as recently as two months ago, are playing some good baseball.  Since June 1st, the team is 18-15 and have taken a series from the St. Louis Cardinals, arguably the best team in the game as well as a series from the NL East leading Atlanta Braves.  The improvement of the team has coincided with the return of outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who I am sure will be the subject of trade talk from now until the year 2015.  But there is also another explanation in the rise of the Fish.

Miami can boast some of the best young starting pitching in the game.  Start with Jose Fernandez, the 20-year old ace who is heading to the All Star Game and is one of MLB’s top rookies.  His record only stands at 5-5 but his ERA is an excellent 2.83 and has 99 strikeouts in 98/3 innings.  He has impressed so many people around the game, even Hall of Famer Don Sutton who recently spent some time with the Rookie.  Fellow rotation mates Jacob Turner and Nathan Eovaldi have combined for 11 games started and an 2.42 ERA.  those three along with highly touted Henderson Alvarez have progressed so nicely that the team cut some more salary by trading long time Marlin Ricky Nolasco.

Once unthinkable, the Marlins have become respectable in such a short period of time.  There will be more growing pains for sure but I wouldn’t want to be a contender and have to face that staff late.  Stanton needs help on offense and is getting some from outfielder Marcell Ozuna and will be joined soon by super prospect Christian Yelich.  Miami could break .500 as soon as next year and become a Wild Card threat.  Now, all Jeffrey Loria has to do is finally keep a quality team together instead of taking it apart.

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Speaking of under the radar, the Tampa Bay Rays are just humming right along.  Every team in the American League East has gotten significantly more press than Tampa but yet here are the Rays once again having another fine season.  Right now, the team is 51-40, 3 games behind the first place Boston Red Sox and in position to capture the second Wild Card.

It seems as though we go through this every season.  We see the organization in some kind of cost cutting mode and then are forgotten about until you get to say, this point in the year and they are in the thick of the playoff hunt.  The trading of James Shields to the Kansas City Royals for gifted young outfielder Wil Myers has been a boon to the Rays’ offense.  Ace David Price just returned from the disabled list and hurled a complete game gem on Sunday.   After starting slowly, closer Fernando Rodney is back to his bow-and-arrow shooting ways.  Tampa is riding a six game winning streak, winning none of ten overall.

For the record I picked the Rays to win the AL East and go to the World Series this year.  Not too long ago, that seemed like another failed prediction.  Now, I don’t look so bad.

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at www.venomstrikes.com

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