Could Marcus Semien Emerge As A Top 5 Shortstop In 2016?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Given his defensive issues it is easy to overlook the offensive output provided by Marcus Semien last season:

556 At Bats
.257 Batting Average (143 Hits)
15 Home Runs
45 RBI
65 Runs
11 Stolen Bases
.310 On Base Percentage
.405 Slugging Percentage
.312 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Considering he played half his games in Oakland, hardly a favorable home ballpark, there is obviously reason for optimism. The question is going to be how big of a step forward, if any, can he take in 2016?

It shouldn’t be a surprise that 10 of his 15 HR came on the road last season. He was relatively consistent, with 8 HR in the first half and 7 in the second, and his 23 doubles and 263.276 average distance on non-groundballs don’t scream of a significant jump.

Of course, from a SS is anyone going to complain about 14-19 HR? Last season there were 7 shortstops who hit 16 or more HR, including Wilmer Flores & Jedd Gyorko, with three more who hit exactly 15. Of those 10 players only three paired the power with more than 6 SB:

  • Marcus Semien
  • Carlos Correa
  • Ian Desmond

With 26 SB back in 2013 between Double-A, Triple-A and the Majors (10 in 2015) there is reason to believe that he can continue producing double-digit SB seasons. So the question comes down to his average.

You can argue a bit of bad luck, with a .312 BABIP and 23.1% line drive rate. Considering his 26.6% mark in the second half, something he likely won’t maintain, we don’t want to get caught up too much in this type of argument.

The problem comes down to his strikeouts, which sat at 22.0% last season. While the number was consistent, his underlying metrics indicate a bit more upside:

  • SwStr% – 9.0%
  • O-Swing% – 26.0%

While he could stand to improve on Offspeed pitches, he didn’t appear to be over-matched by any one type (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 7.54%
  • Breaking – 12.20%
  • Offspeed – 16.25%

It’s promising, as is his 16.1% strikeout rate in 366 PA at Triple-A in 2014. Even if he can just get the mark down under 20%, with the line drive rate, power and a little speed, we are talking about a .270+ hitter. When coupled with a near lock to go 10/10 and hopefully improvement in his counting stats, there’s an awful lot to like.

The biggest key is staying on the field, which doesn’t appear to be an issue. It would be easy to overlook Semien, but don’t make that mistake.

Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Heat Maps

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  1. jrob23 says:

    He barely cracks the top 10 but you could do much worse especially because you should be able to get much much later.

  2. sea says:

    biggest risk is most likely is glove….

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