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Is Segura An Improvement Over Ahmed?

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This past Saturday, the Diamondbacks and Brewers struck a five-player deal that saw Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner head to Arizona in exchange for Chase Anderson, Aaron Hill, and infield prospect Isan Diaz. There are some things we don't know, like how much the Diamondbacks value the monetary relief they gained from shedding a portion of Hill's contract or what Milwaukee sees for Diaz's future. One thing we do know, though, is that the DBacks place significant value on Segura as he currently sits atop incumbent starter Nick Ahmed on the team's depth chart. But is Segura actually an improvement over Ahmed? Let's take a look.

Being tabbed as a glove-first middle infielder is often a euphemism for an inability to hit. But elite defense at a premium position is a valuable commodity, and in 2015 Ahmed was amongst the best. In fact, in 129 games at shortstop, Ahmed produced the third-highest Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at the position, putting his performance within striking distance of established defensive wizards Andrelton Simmons and Brandon Crawford.

Most Defensive Runs Saved at Shortstop, 2015
Player Runs Saved
Andrelton Simmons 25
Brandon Crawford 20
Nick Ahmed 19
Francisco Lindor 10
Addison Russell 10

For comparison, Segura's defense cost the Brewers three runs in 2015. In 472 games at shortstop over his career, he has netted a total of 2 DRS, while Ahmed has amassed 21 DRS in 147 total contests.

On the other hand, Segura has outperformed Ahmed at the plate to date. But is it enough to overcome such a drastic deficit on defense? Let's use Total Runs—a measure of player value based on his offensive (Runs Created), defensive (Defensive Runs Saved), pitching (Pitching Runs Created), and baserunning (Baserunning Runs) contributions adjusted for position and number of innings played (Pos Adj)—as our method of comparison. Since peaking with 112 Total Runs in 2013, Segura's production has taken a significant hit; he has recorded 80 and 81 Total Runs, respectively, in the two seasons since. Despite a sluggish start to his career on offense, Ahmed's defensive production has proved more than enough to make him the better all-around performer in 2015 according to Total Runs.

Total Runs by Season, Minimum 100 Games Played
Player Season Runs
Nick Ahmed 2015 40 4 19 26 89
Jean Segura 2015 49 4 -3 31 81
Jean Segura 2014 44 3 2 31 80
Jean Segura 2013 78 0 3 31 112

Perhaps the Diamondbacks have reason to believe that Segura can bounce back to his 2013 level of production, or maybe they aren't convinced Ahmed will continue to perform at an elite level defensively. But, if recent history is any indication, Arizona's newest acquisition may actually represent no improvement at all.

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