Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Is Marcus Semien’s Surge For Real Or Does Disappointment Loom?

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It seems like the A’s Marcus Semien is coming off a career year as he set career highs in:

  1. Home Runs (33)
  2. RBI (92)
  3. Runs (123)
  4. Average (.285)

While his 10 SB wasn’t a career best, they only helped to ensure his impressive value.  The question now facing fantasy owners is whether or not this surge was a one-time thing or if he can sustain the impressive, across the board production and continue on as one of the elite.

The quick answer is that while there could be a small step backwards, the production for Semien seems very much for real.  Why?  Let’s take a look:

Power

You can argue that the power represents the biggest question facing him.  After hitting 25 HR between 2017 and 2018 (1,091 PA) he posted his first 30+ campaign.  There are a few key points that need to be considered before writing it off as unrepeatable:

  • Semien added 43 doubles and 7 triples in ‘19
  • Semien’s 15.3% HR/FB isn’t an unreasonable mark
  • Semien suffered a fractured wrist early in 2017, which may have cost him a lot of his power

The last point may be the most important, especially since it’s possible that it did take two years for him to get back to full strength.  Remember that he hit 27 HR courtesy of a 14.7% HR/FB in 2016, and fully healthy he got back to those numbers.  Having shown he has the power to hit the ball out of any ballpark (15 HR over 318 AB at home in ’19), there’s every reason to believe that he can come close to replicating the mark.

Average

The improved average is, at least in part, due to the power spike.  Since we have already stated that it is believable it in turn makes sense to expect a better average.  Just adding to the appeal was the continued maturation of his approach as he posted a 7.2% SwStr% and 23.1% O-Swing%, leading to some impressive marks in terms of strikeouts (13.7%) and walks (11.6%).

Now take that approach and add a 41.7% Hard% and enough of a willingness to use the entire field (24.5% Oppo%), and there’s reason to believe in an even better BABIP (.294).  While you can make the argument that he started to become a little too flyball-centric, as he tried to hit for more power, it’s not enough of a knock.

At between .270 and .280, with the power and added speed, and what’s not to like?

Runs/RBI

To an extent this is a factor of the improved power and average.  While scoring that many runs again seems like a stretch, it’s hard not to expect Semien to make a significant impact across the board.

Conclusion

You put it all together and what’s not to like?  While it’s easy to say that Semien isn’t an elite shortstop, thanks to the impressive depth at the position, the fact is that he’s going to remain one of the better options in the league.  He’s a great fallback if you miss the top names, coming at only a fraction of the cost.

Source – Fangraphs

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings:

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PositionLast Updated
Catcher04/13/20
First Baseman--
Second Baseman04/15/20
Shortstop04/17/20
Third Baseman04/20/20
Outfield04/24/20
Pitcher--

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