By: Noah Wright
The 2020-2021 Free Agent class looks about as stacked as the 2019-2020 class before the extension flurry that was late last off season. You have AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts, sluggers Joc Pederson, Justin Turner, and Michael Brantley, all being joined by some other names like DJ LeMahieu, and Cesar Hernandez. That’s not even mentioning the pitchers. The likes of Trevor Bauer, Masahiro Tanaka, Marcus Stroman, Alex Colome, Brandon Workman, and Kirby Yates.
With so many all-star level names, it's easy to overlook some lesser known names. Among those is shortstop Marcus Semien. Semien is the most overlooked, and one of, if not the best the best middle infielders of the 2020-2021 class.
The A’s starting shortstop was acquired back in the 2014-2015 off season. He was the main headliner heading to Oakland in the Jeff Samarzdjia trade. Through his first few MLB seasons, Semien kind of struggled to find his footing in the bigs. He showed he had some pop, with double digits in homers each season between 2014 and 2016, but also showed some speed with double digits in stolen bases between 2014 to 2016. His glove was inconsistent as well. Sometimes he looked like a Gold Glover, sometimes he looked like an average infielder who could benefit from a move to second base. But the last 2 seasons have seen Semien improve on both his fielding and batting.
During 2018, Semien was one of the best defensive shortstops in the MLB. He provided the A’s with 9 DRS, 8.3 UZR, and 2.0 dWAR. Only two shortstops in the entire MLB surpassed Semien in defensive value. Those 2 were Indians’ Francisco Lindor (21.2), and Angels’ Andrelton Simmons (26.2). Sure his overall offensives stats weren’t great, but they were manageable. Through 703 plate appearances, the righty swinging middle infielder hit .255/.318/.388 with 15 home runs, and 14 stolen bases. His 95 wRC+ wasn’t bad for being one of the best defensive shortstops in the game.
However in 2019, Semien has carried over the outstanding performance at short, and has broken out with his bat. Semien may only have 533 plate appearances under his belt in 2019, but he is more than on pace to break some of his career records like total bases, doubles, and hits in one season. Hell, he has already had more walks this year than any other year in his career. Semien is batting a strong .278/.364/.481 with 19 home runs. Only one primary shortstop has outranked Semien offensively in terms of wRC+. That would be Xander Bogaerts (143), but Semien sits at 126 wRC+. Semien already has 5 DRS, a 5.6 UZR, and 1.2 dWAR. While he has dropped from last year in defensive value, ranking at 6th currently, he still outranks Francsico Lindor, Brandon Crawford, Corey Seager, and Dansby Swanson.
When Semien hits the free agent market, he will be 30, so he won’t be too old. Plus if he can keep up his offensive value, while still putting up extremely good defensive numbers, Semien could be looking at a huge payday. I could see Marcus earning a contract similar to Xander Bogaerts’ extension last off season. The Red Sox signed Bogaerts to a 6 year extension worth $20 million AAV. I don’t see Semien getting a 6 year contract, speaking that Bogaerts signed the extension when he was 26 and not 30, but I could see him getting something similar in overall AAV over 3 or 4 years.