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A. L. East

“That’s Amore!” J.A. Happ & Jean Segura Are For Real

It does not matter what fantasy sport you are playing, year in and year out there are players who outperform expectations. Whether they are late-round MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Toronto Blue Jaysfliers, or waiver wire acquisitions, these players become key components to championship teams. This season has followed suit as J.A. Happ and Jean Segura have been two of the hottest stories all season long. Jean Segura was a hot discussion during MLFS pre-season radio shows, and I don’t believe anyone saw the career-3.99 ERA Happ having a Cy Young-like season. Regardless, both players have had dynamite seasons and have been solid additions to fantasy owners that roster them. This week, I want to look deeper into the sabermetrics that tell the true stories of J.A. Happ and Jean Segura. There’s no questioning the basic stats of each player. If we looked at their stats without having their names next to them, I’d be shocked if anyone would guess that they belonged to Happ or Segura.

The American league Cy Young Award is getting a lot of attention. There are many arms deserving of the award, and J.A. Happ is a front-runner. The lefty may not have the natural talent of a Chris Sale, but he’s been remarkable for a Blue Jays team that needs pitching. When talking about the Blue Jays’ playoff hopes, pitching is the first topic. They lack a true number one starter, and Marcus Stroman has been anything but a top-of-the-rotation starter. Aaron Sanchez has been as dominant as Happ and should be in the voting for AL Cy Young as well. The only question with Sanchez was whether or not he stays in the rotation or moves to the bullpen to preserve his innings. Recent reports suggest Sanchez will stay in the rotation for the time being.

Happ currently stands with a 16-3 record to go along with a 2.96 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 16 quality starts (tied for 5th in MLB), and 124:43 K:BB. His 16 wins Action Haplead MLB, and all 16 of his wins have come from quality starts. While he’s never been known as a strikeout pitcher, Happ’s 2016 success is directly related to his 42.4 GB%. 42.4% is a career-best, and 3.2% better than his career average. Pitching home games at the Rogers Centre, ground balls become very important to a pitcher’s success. This has done wonders for Happ and he’s been able to minimize FB% and LD% to 35.1% and 22.5% respectively. Of his 15 home runs surrendered, seven have come at home and eight while on the road. The splits tell an interesting story as Happ has a 2.76 ERA in Toronto and 3.15 on the road. His numbers have been on par at home and away.

The Blue Jays lefty’s 31.9 Hard% sees him in the top-25% among qualified starters. As good as he’s been, batters have had a tough time squaring the ball up against Happ. The best Hard% goes to Tanner Roark’s 23.1%, just ahead of Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks’ 24.1%. Patrick Corbin has been hit the hardest in MLB with a 40.0%. Happ’s career-season doesn’t stop at batted ball percentages, as he’s also set a career-best in Contact% at 78.9% shaving 3.1% off since last season and 2.9% better than his career-average of 81.8%.

With an ADP of 260, Happ’s been as consistent as it gets from a starting pitcher. Of his 23 starts, only four have seen Happ give up four earned runs or more. He’s managed his pitch count and this efficiency has made him a top-15 fantasy starting pitcher. It remains to be seen if he gets the Cy Young Award votes he deserves, but there’s no reason the lefty doesn’t get a top-five finish.

“Change of scenery” has become a popular cliché when referring to a player’s lack of success. More goes into the saying than moving to a different ballpark. I’m a firm believer that a player’s success, or lack thereof, is directly related to the organization he is a part of. Think about that for a second. Would David Carr or Joey Harrington have fared differently if they played for better organizations than an expansion Houston team or struggling Detroit organizations? What about Tom Brady? What if Detroit had drafted him before New England? The same can be send for baseball, J Segurabasketball, and hockey players. We’ve seen Jake Arrieta leave Baltimore, and turn into a Cy Young Award winner in Chicago. The same can be send for Jean Segura’s 2016 season with the Diamondbacks.

After a torrid 2013 season, Segura had forgettable 2014 and 2015 seasons for Milwaukee. Luckily, the Diamondbacks went all-in and acquired the shortstop for the likes of right-handed pitchers Tyler Wagner and Chase Anderson, infielder Aaron Hill, minor league shortstop Isan Diaz, and $6.5mil. For a team rebuilding, Milwaukee received a handful of talent, but the Diamondbacks acquired a hitter that is ranked fifth in hits throughout MLB. Segura has been a great acquisition. At only 26 years-old the Diamondbacks can rely on the middle infielder for the next 5+ seasons. With shortstop and second base eligibility, Segura becomes a solid options for fantasy owners as well.

The first-year Diamondback has slashed .308/.357/.458 with 10 HR, 44 RBI, 70 runs scored, and 22 stolen bases. Segura needs three more home runs, five more runs scored, and seven more RBI to set career-highs. Playing home games at Chase Field helps, but Segura has increased his LD% to 19.7% from 16.7% in 2015. 19.7% also sees him 1.8% higher than his career-average. His LD% has lead to his 2016 success just as his lowered GB% (59.0% to 53.8%) and increased FB% (24.2% to 26.5%) has helped the slugger rebound in only one season following two consecutive subpar seasons following a phenomenal 2013 season. Segura’s 19.7 LD% sees him with the top-100 LD% leaders and situated between the likes of Carlos Beltran and Ryan Braun.

If we concentrate on his increased LD% and FB% we can see a direct correlation in regards to Pull% (28.2%) and Hard% (28.2%). Segura’s 28.2 Pull% is the second-highest it’s been through a full season, and his 28.2 Hard% is a career-high and 4.2% higher than his career average. Jean Segura is locked in, and he’s making fantasy owners look like geniuses, while softening the blow as Dave Stewart’s other acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller haven’t worked out as he has hoped. The only outlier to Segura’s season is the fact that his 84.6 Contact% is the lowest it’s been in his career and 0.5% lower than his career average. On a positive note, he’s increased his BB% from 2.2% in 2015 to 5.4% (career-high) in 2016 while lowering his K% from 15.9% in 2015 to 14.8% (0.3% higher than his career average) in 2016.

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Major League Fantasy Football Radio: Join Ej GarrCorey D Roberts, and Coach Jeff Nelson live Sunday August 14th from 7-9pm EST for episode #66 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. This is a live broadcast and we take callers at 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the hosts. This week we will break down the NFC West from an NFL and fantasy perspective.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

I'm a former collegiate and semi-pro baseball player. Chicago sports are the love of my life [Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls] as well as European football. I promise Cubs fans that if Theo can't bring a World Series, I will knock down all doors until I work my way up to GM and bring home a World Series to the Northside of Chicago!

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