MASTER NOTES: Jean Segura and the nature of optimism

Jean Segura is a tremendous baseball player and if you own him in a re-draft league, you should trade him as soon as possible.

Confused? You shouldn’t be. This is the nature of the fantasy baseball marketplace. Owners should have a feel for market value relative to player performance at all times in order to take advantage of opportunities to exploit potential inefficiencies. Jean Segura is an opportunity.

I was high on Segura heading into the season and own him in several leagues. Last week, I was offered Adrian Beltre for Jean Segura straight up in a 12-team mixed re-draft league. I couldn’t hit “Accept” fast enough. I knew Segura’s hot start had begun to inflate his value, but even I was surprised to see it go this far. Something else surprised me: most folks I've spoken with feel like I got the short end of this deal, regardless of positional scarcity or team need.

Segura is a terrific talent and he looks to have a very bright future in the big leagues. He doesn’t have much patience, but makes a lot of contact and runs extremely well. The h% will regress of course, but he’s got a real chance to steal 40 bases, score a lot of runs and post a strong BA if he stays healthy. We’ve seen 700+ ABs at Double A and above that support these skills. A shortstop with this kind of ability is a rare commodity these days.

What we haven’t seen to this point, however, is the power Segura has displayed across the first quarter of 2013, which many owners are apparently treating as an owned skill. Those same 700 ABs that support the skills discussed above completely undermine Segura’s power surge to this point. Segura has shown doubles power in the minors and some growth is expected for a 23 year old, but his track record suggests he could just as easily fall short of 10 home runs rather than reach 20.  

The real point here is that beyond some BA regression, we don’t know what to expect from Segura going forward. This uncertainty creates opportunity because when it comes to young players, owners are optimists. They want to believe that Segura is capable of a 20/40 season. They want to believe that they have 2013's  Mike Trout, even though the actual 2013 Mike Trout is showing us how difficult it is to sustain that level of performance. Yet, for many owners, the lottery ticket is always preferable to the known quantity.

Known quantities win championships. I will grant that owning Segura may be more exciting than owning Adrian Beltre, but I will make that trade 100 times out of 100, because I have 8100+ MLB at-bats telling me that Adrian Beltre will hit for a solid average, finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 HRs while scoring and knocking plenty of runs. Segura could finish as the more valuable player, but given the available information on both players, the odds favor the proven star over the rookie every time.

The chances are good that Segura’s market value is at its zenith right now. Trading him for an established top-30 player is a win for his former owner, regardless of how well he plays the rest of this season, because it is the best use of the information currently available. Did the owners that traded Mike Trout for Ryan Braun last June sell too soon because Trout kept up his torrid pace all season? Of course not. Turning an unproven commodity into a verifiably elite asset is all any owner can hope to do with a young player acquired late in drafts. Segura may not return that kind of value, but then again I wouldn’t have guessed he would land me Adrian Beltre before last week.

Optimism is important. Hope keeps us going. Positivity can be a blessing. But brutal honesty and pragmatism will serve fantasy owners far better when it comes to evaluating players. I really enjoyed owning Jean Segura and expect big things from him going forward.

I just enjoy winning more.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.