by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There were hopes that Marcus Semien would be an under-the-radar selection entering 2017, but a broken wrist nearly eliminated that potential. Part of the problem was that he was limited to 85 games, though even when he was on the field there were some obvious issues:
342 At Bats
.249 Batting Average (85 Hits)
10 Home Runs
12 Stolen Bases
.325 On Base Percentage
.398 Slugging Percentage
.300 Batting Average on Balls in Play
The power regressed (9.2% HR/FB) and he continued to struggle with his batting average (.246 for his career). Is there anything in those numbers that is worth buying in to a year later? As you dig in, the answer is yes…
While the power isn’t going to blow you away, and the HR/FB looks similar to what he had been doing prior to ’16 (9.7% in ’14, 9.1% in ’15), it’s easy to blame the slow down on the wrist injury. It’s not uncommon for that type of injury to regress power, the key is that one poor month helped to distort the number (HR/FB):
- July – 16.7%
- August – 3.2%
- September – 11.1%
He hit 4 HR in July and 5 HR in September, showing that he has the potential to hit 24-29 HR (he was at 14.7% in ’16, when he hit 27 HR). While he may not be a 30+ HR threat, getting that type of power from a shortstop is going to hold appeal.
Even better, while the power was down he focused more on utilizing his speed. After stealing 21 bases over the previous two seasons combined, he showed he has the potential to swipe 20 bases in a season if given the opportunity to do so. Even if he just gets to the 15-19 range we are taking about a potential 25/15 player.
Last season there were 18 players, regardless of position, who went 20/15 or better last season. Given the potential Semien has in those two categories alone, he deserves to be on radars. The fact that he continued to stay in the strike zone (26.0% O-Swing%), which could lead to an improvement in his strikeout rate (22.0%), and he could also see an improvement in his BABIP, you would think a slight improvement in his average is realistic. That would just put him over the top, and sends us to this projection for 2018:
.262 (144-550), 24 HR, 75 RBI, 70 R, 16 SB, .299 BABIP, .333 OBP, .445 SLG
It is easy to dub Semien a post-hype sleeper, as many in your league will probably ignore him given the injury/suppressed numbers a year ago. With the potential for him to better these marks, as the price drops he becomes an ideal target. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking him.
Source – Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: