Jean Segura’s offense has picked up since returning from injury. The numbers behind it

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Miami Marlins third baseman Jean Segura doesn’t want to definitively say that his recent time on the injured list sparked his recent surge.

Then again, he doesn’t want to dismiss it outright, either.

What can be stated: After struggling offensively for the majority of his first season with the Marlins, Segura has been playing his best baseball since he was activated from the injured list on June 27 after missing 10 games due to a left hamstring strain.

Entering Monday’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, Segura is hitting .333 (19 for 57) with an .816 on-base-plus-slugging mark, eight RBI and seven runs scored over the past 15 games. That’s tied for the 20th-best batting average out of 165 players with at least 50 plate appearances in that span. He has multiple hits in six of those 15 games, including his first three-hit game of the season which came Saturday.

Segura was hitting just .190 with a .493 OPS through his first 60 games of the season when he went on the injured list, nowhere near what he or the Marlins were expecting when he signed a two-year deal with the club this offseason. Through the first 11 years of his MLB career, Segura had a .285 career batting average.

“This game’s tough. You don’t know what things are going to help you,” Segura said before the All-Star Break. “It might have helped. It might not. It might have given me a breather to not think about playing the game every single day, especially when you’re not doing good. You never know what’s going to help you.”

With that said, what has been helping Segura? A few factors come into play.

First, he’s hitting line drives at a higher rate — 23.4 percent since returning from the injured list compared to 19.2 percent before the IL stint.

Second, he’s hitting balls a little bit harder. Segura’s average exit velocity is about 3 mph higher during the past 15 games than it was during the first 60 games (89.6 mph since returning from the IL, 86.5 mph before).

And finally, luck is starting to come his way a little bit.

Even with those first two details, the higher line drive rate and increased exit velocity, Segura’s expected batting average (the likelihood a ball in play will result in a hit) has remained almost steady, according to Statcast. It was .241 in the 60 games prior to the injury and .248 following his return.

Now, compare those numbers to Segura’s actual batting averages in those two spans.

Sixty games prior to injury: .241 expected batting average compared to a .190 batting average; the 51-point differential in the negative was the fourth worst among all players with at least 200 plate appearances from Opening Day until June 14, when Segura went on the injured list.

Fifteen games since returning: .248 expected batting average compared to a .333 batting average; the 85-point differential in the positive is the fifth best in baseball among players with at least 50 plate appearances from June 27 (when Segura returned from the IL) to Sunday.

This also falls in line with his uptick in his batting average on balls in play, which removes strikeouts and home runs from the equation and sometimes is used to point to a player’s “luck.” Segura’s BABIP is .391 through the past 15 games, compared to just .224 in the first 60 games of the season and .314 for his career.

“He’s playing hard,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “He was playing hard before. It’s just the hits weren’t falling. It’s good to see him get some good luck finally and having those balls get through.”

Segura’s goal now is to make sure this success isn’t a flash in the pan. The Marlins are in contention for a playoff spot. He wants to keep contributing to that cause.

“There’s still almost three months left in the season, a lot of games left,” Segura said. “Our team is playing such great baseball. Hopefully we continue to play like that. Hopefully I continue to get hot and help this ball club.”