CLEVELAND -- For the first time since 2015, Jean Segura will fall short of batting .300 in a season.
Well, unless ...
"If he goes 22 for his next 40," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Saturday, "he hits .301."
Kapler rattled off the numbers as though he was some sort of human calculator. Really, though, he crunched them earlier in the day. After writing Segura's name into the Phillies' lineup again and hoping he would be able to play through a balky ankle after being a late scratch Friday night, Kapler began to think of what it would take for the shortstop to reach his normal level of offense.
At a time when most teams, including the Phillies, pay less attention to batting average, Segura takes great pride in it. He sets a goal each season to play every day and pile up enough hits to bat .300. From 2016-18, he had more hits (538) in fewer plate appearances (1,892) than even Christian Yelich (529 in 2,005) and Freddie Freeman (504 in 1,914).
The Phillies acquired Segura last December in a trade that sent first baseman Carlos Santana to the Seattle Mariners. (Santana eventually got traded to the Cleveland Indians and has 34 homers, 92 RBI and a .924 OPS this season.) Segura, meanwhile, entered Saturday night’s game against the Indians batting .283 with 156 hits, his lowest totals since he hit .257 with 144 hits in 2015 for Milwaukee.
“I think it’s a really good year to build on,” Kapler said. “For Jean, I think there’s more in the tank. I think he’s a .300 hitter. I don’t want to blame it all on some luck, but there’s been a lot of line drives that have found gloves. You could see if he had five hits go his way how .300 would be a much more attainable goal right now.”
Specifically, Kapler pointed to a few hard-hit balls that didn't fall for hits earlier in the week in Atlanta. But Segura's batting average on balls in play is .306, slightly above the league average of .298. Other Phillies batters, including Rhys Hoskins (.276 BAbip), have been more luckless.
Kapler acknowledged that Segura can take steps to better his chances of hitting .300 in future seasons. In particular, Kapler believes Segura can work to improve his speed and thereby maximize his infield hits. He has 26 infield hits this season, second-most among Phillies hitters behind Cesar Hernandez (27) but tied for his fewest in a season since 2012.
Or, you know, he could just go 20-for-40 over the Phillies' last 10 games.
"Part of the reason [for crunching those numbers] is because I know he feels like he's a .300 hitter. I want him to be thinking about that," Kapler said. "Guys get hot. I mean, that would be a scorching-hot stretch, but it's not unheard of."