Fantasy baseball nuggets: Jean Segura, Danny Espinosa

      March 3, 2014 @ 17:18:58 PDT

The Milwaukee Brewers reportedly are considering Jean Segura; each of their second sackers, Scooter Gennett and Rickie Weeks; and center fielder Carlos Gomez for the leadoff spot. Segura, naturally, is the front-runner.

The .294 hitter in 2013 batted in the two-hole for 528 of his 623 plate appearances last season. Ron Roenicke probably asked nothing in particular of his shortstop in that age-23 campaign, the first full one of Segura's career.

If Segura is the choice, it'll be interesting to see if he adjusts his approach, and if so, what results. The transition to the top spot for aggressive batsmen, particularly young ones, can be trying. The 2013 All-Star may expect or try to take more pitches, even if it's not a directive.

Washington Nationals INF Danny Espinosa
Nats haven't given up on Espinosa

This may not be a big deal. Segura walked in only 4.0 percent of his plate appearances last season but was a little more patient at times in previous years. Gennett, supposedly second in the running to bat first, accepts the free pass at a similarly infrequent rate. Norichika Aoki, the team's previous leadoff man, had a solid walk rate but saw only 3.62 pitches per plate appearance last year.

Aoki's OBP in two seasons in Milwaukee was .355, however; Segura's MLB OBP is .326. The latter player saw 3.67 P/PA on the farm in 2012, his last year in minor league ball. In the bigs, he's seen 3.60 P/PA, including a 3.64 mark last year, well outside the top 100 among the 140 players who qualified. The Brew Crew might prefer that Segura doesn't change a thing, but if he disappoints, then his shortchanging OBP will be magnified.

We know that Segura can hit. He made contact on a healthy 85.6 percent of the pitches at which he swung in 2013. It sounds as if Roenicke's order will remain to swing away. That's good, because the expectations of a player who's asked to change his approach for the sake of the lineup can be unnecessarily daunting. Just ask Ian Desmond, Starlin Castro and others who struggled to reconcile their approaches with their clubs' hopes early on.

I haven't been willing to pay market rate for Segura this year. I may miss the mark here, but that's easy to accept. His numbers in 2014 will have to come pretty close to those of last year in order for him to justify the cost. I'm probably overanalyzing the leadoff situation, but I'm a little more skeptical than others that he's such a lock.

Espinosa should find some ABs

The Washington Nationals have been working out Ryan Zimmerman at first base and plan to use him there some this season. That doesn't affect Zimmerman much, but it makes Danny Espinosa a touch more interesting.

The organization clearly wants to salvage Espinosa in some capacity. Matt Williams declared an open competition between him and Anthony Rendon for the second base job when camp opened. (Probably just lip service.) Espinosa is expected to play at short often this spring, too. And when Zimmerman plays at first (against LHPs), Rendon will surely move to the hot corner, leaving Espinosa to start at the keystone.

That'd probably be beneficial for Espinosa's production. The switch hitter is a .220/.293/.378 hitter in 1,188 PAs against RHPs but a .262/.334/.453 performer in 394 PAs versus southpaws. His 20-20 ability prorated to 200 or 300 plate appearances makes for nice end-game or reserve material in NL-only leagues, and with an injury, who knows, if he turns things around just a little.

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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