Mariners spring training countdown: Who is the real Jean Segura

CaptionCloseJean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks makes a throw to first base for the third out of the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matthew Hazlett/Getty Images)Jean...

Mariners spring training countdown: Who is the real Jean Segura

CaptionCloseJean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks makes a throw to first base for the third out of the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matthew Hazlett/Getty Images)Jean...

26 Şubat 2017 Pazar 08:56
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Mariners spring training countdown: Who is the real Jean Segura

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Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks makes a throw to first base for the third out of the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matthew Hazlett/Getty Images)

Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks makes a throw to first base for the third out of the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by

Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks takes a swing during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 26, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Diamondbacks won 14-4. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks takes a swing during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 26, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Diamondbacks won 14-4. (Photo by

After making a diving stop, Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws the runner out from his knees during the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field on September 18, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Darin Wallentine/Getty Images)

After making a diving stop, Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws the runner out from his knees during the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field on September 18, 2016 in Phoenix,

Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers is tagged out in a run down by infielder Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on August 16, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Dodgers 2-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers is tagged out in a run down by infielder Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on August 16, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. The

Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the Colorado Rockies during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 6, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the Colorado Rockies during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 6, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a solo home run against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of the spring training game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 4, 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a solo home run against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of the spring training game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 4, 2016 in

Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks high-fives teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of the spring training game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 4, 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Jean Segura of the Arizona Diamondbacks high-fives teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of the spring training game at Salt River Fields at

Jean Segura of the Milwaukee Brewers reaches for a ground ball in the second inning against the Pittsurgh Pirates during the game at PNC Park on June 9, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Jean Segura of the Milwaukee Brewers reaches for a ground ball in the second inning against the Pittsurgh Pirates during the game at PNC Park on June 9, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared

Pitchers and catchers report to the Seattle Mariners' spring training home at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona, tomorrow. In our final piece previewing some of the biggest storylines facing the club in 2017, we ask: Who is the real Jean Segura?

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto made a MLB-high 13 trades this offseason, but if he's going to be judged on the results of one deal, it will be the Thanksgiving Eve swap that sent former top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker and young shortstop Ketel Marte to Arizona for shortstop Jean Seagura, rookie outfielder Mitch Haniger and lefty reliever Zac Curtis.

The 26-year-old Segura was the centerpiece of the deal from Seattle's perspective, brought in to give the M's a true leadoff bat for the first time since trading away Ichiro Suzuki in 2012. And if he in any way replicates his 2016 production, Dipoto would be thrilled.

Segura had what has to be considered one of the greatest statistical seasons by a leadoff hitter in major league history, batting .319 with a National League-leading 203 hits, 20 home runs, 41 doubles, 33 stolen bases and 102 runs scored.

"He was dynamic, not just good," Dipoto said. "He was fantastic, and he was fantastic for six months. There was no variance in what he was doing."

Segura crushed right-handed pitching, batting .333 and slugging 16 of his 20 home runs. But he was no slouch against lefties, either, batting .275 with a .763 OPS. You'd expect most of his big numbers to come at hitter-friendly Chase Field, but he hit just under half of his doubles (20) on the road. In May, his worst month of the season, he averaged a hit per day, batting .278 with seven doubles.

Those are eye-popping stats that play off his breakout 2013 campaign with the Milwaukee Brewers, when he earned an All-Star appearance after batting .294 with 12 home runs, 20 doubles and 44 steals in his first full season in the majors.

Of course, that was three years before he put up astronomical numbers last season. In between were two campaigns that didn't resemble Segura at his best. In 2014 and 2015, he hit a combined .252 and averaged six home runs, 15 doubles and 22 steals per season, resulting in a woeful .615 OPS.

So is Segura the best leadoff hitter in baseball or just a replacement-level player? Based on the swing changes he saw Segura make before last year, which included an alteration to where he holds the bat before swinging, Dipoto is counting on him resembling the former.

"Jean Segura had a very good 2013 season," Dipoto told reporters at the Mariners' pre-spring training luncheon last month. "He was not very good in 2014 and 15. There are reasons, I think, we can attribute to some of that struggle."

Presumably one of the reasons for Segura's struggles was the aftermath of the sudden death of his nine-month old son Janniel in July 2014, which came several months after Segura rejected a seven-year, $40 million contract extension from the Brewers that Segura viewed as a low-ball offer. There was also a strange incident in which Milwaukee teammate Ryan Braun accidentally hit Segura in the head with a bat while warming up in the dugout.

Segura's final two years with the Brewers were undeniably difficult and disappointing, and eventually ended with a trade to Arizona in a five-player deal in February 2016. He shone in his only year in the desert, and now will try to replicate those results as he tops a lineup featuring established bats in designated hitter Nelson Cruz, third baseman Kyle Seager and second baseman and fellow Dominican Republic native Robinson Cano, whom Segura credits for his success last year after the two worked together in the offseason.

In particular, Cano helped the right-handed Segura with "seeing where the pitch is and just going with the ball," according to Cano, as opposed to simply waiting for a ball to drive. That resulted in Segura spraying the ball to all fields with power in 2016.

"He hit more balls to the opposite field than anybody else in the league last year," manager Scott Servais said last month. "He uses the entire field to hit, he's got power. He brings a lot. Also the fact that he's so tight with Robbie, it's going to be neat to watch. I'm really exited to have him on board and he will hit at the top of the lineup."

Dipoto isn't worried about Segura's transition shortstop, which Dipoto sees as"his natural position" after playing second base last year. He's not counting on Segura to put up the same numbers he did last year, saying he expects "some regression" while playing in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. But Dipoto does expect to see a season that resembles the 2016 campaign more than it does the two prior.

"We feel like many of the things that he did last year are very sustainable," Dipoto said. "We're going to find out."

Visit seattlepi.com for more Seattle Mariners news. Contact sports reporter Stephen Cohen at stephencohen@seattlepi.com or @scohenPI

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