Semien belongs at center of AL shortstop All-Star discussion

Marcus Semien leads all American League shortstops in home runs (17). He is also third in RBIs (43) and tied for eighth in stolen bases (5). He boasts a certain All-Star eligible resume.

The iron-man infielder has not only started ever game for Oakland Athletics (35-46), he has been one of the team’s top offensive producers while adding solid and occasionally spectacular defense. His manager and teammates believe the sum of his efforts should net him his first ever All-Star Game selection when rosters are announced this week, though fan voters failed to place Semien among the top five at his position.

Skipper Bob Melvin took no time at all in responding to whether or not the 25-year-old is a worthy candidate:

“Yeah, he is (an All-Star), for sure. He keeps getting better and better, and the production goes up and up. Hopefully that merits certain consideration. You can’t ignore the numbers, and not only is he doing it offensively he’s doing it defensively.”

While his average and on-base percentage are not what is generally viewed as All-Star caliber — he is currently slashing .241/.305/.464 — Semien has provided power numbers unmatched at the position. His 17 homers are five more than five-time Mid-Summer Classic participant Troy Tulowitzki and reigning Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa (12 apiece) who are tied for second-most.

His run production is behind only Boston’s Xander Bogaerts (51 RBIs), who has enjoyed 51 more at-bats, and Correa (48), with 15 more at-bats. The difference between Semien and the two top competitors is that the necessity for power distribution in the A’s lineup has forced him into the bottom-third of the order — out of a normal run-producing position — in 72 of 81 games, with 31 starts coming as the nine-hole hitter.

Former All-Star (2015) starter Sonny Gray said that, in the discussion of Semien’s worthiness, there isn’t even a question to be asked:

“Yeah, I don’t think there is any doubt… He’s one of the best (shortstops), in my mind, in the league.”

Also worth examining when considering the San Francisco native’s potential credentials are the value he has to his team.

Despite his A’s sitting at 11 games under the .500-mark, the club is 10-5 when their shortstop collects two or more hits — Semien is batting .314 in wins, and .185 in losses. When he has homered, Oakland is 9-7 (Semien has one two-homer game).

Not only is his home-run total a career-high — needing 74 fewer games than he played in hitting 15 last season — his RBI tally is just two shy of his total from a season ago.

Semien credits his growth in the box to his increased knowledge of the league as well as himself:

“Just trying to be a smarter hitter up there — learning my swing; getting ready earlier; see the ball better; knowing what counts I can drive a ball in; knowing other counts where you got to try to hit the hole.”

Not only has he found the hole considerably well, he has filled them increasingly well.

Oakland’s defensive middle-man is tops among AL shortstops in putouts (127), assists (255) and double-plays turned (67). Boasting a league-leading 4.82 range factor proves his unrivaled ability to make nay and all plays, making his .979 fielding percentage (No. 5) all the more impressive.

Baseball is a game built around hitting the ball, running and throwing. No AL shortstop has shown the capacity to combine those talents quite like the Bay Area’s own Marcus Semien.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.