Investors in Marcus Semien for 2016 cashed in as he set career highs in plate appearances, home runs, RBI, runs scored and slugging percentage, while he reached double-digit stolen bases for the second straight year. Even his former hatchet-job defense has improved, which should lock him into the lineup, where he mostly hit toward the top down the stretch last year. His production dipped in the second half, but the 19 first-half home runs linger as a reminder of his upside. To reach the next level, the 26-year-old must show he can do anything in the batting average column, which on the back of his weak batting eye and flyball profile doesn't look like an immediate avenue for growth. Speculators are better off hoping he steals more bags if he continues to bat near the top of the order. For owners who can take the batting average hit, Semien will settle in as a midrange shortstop in mixed leagues who could repeat his returns from last year.
Semien was scratched from the lineup Saturday due to an illness, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The shortstop could miss a day or two, but the ailment isn't likely to threaten his availability for Opening Day. Expectations are fairly high this season for the 26-year-old, who clubbed 27 homers to go with 75 RBI in 2016.
Semien (elbow) went 0-for-3 with a stolen base and a run in Monday's spring league game. Semien is 0-for-7 since returning to spring action after being hit by a pitch last week, though he does have a stolen base and a run over that period. The 26-year-old has cooled off since he started spring on a tear, but he'll head into the season with high expectations after posting a career-high 27 homers and 75 RBI.
Semien left Friday's Cactus League game after being hit by a pitch on the left elbow, Joe Stiglich of CSN California reports. The report noted that while Semien left the game, he stayed in the dugout, which would suggest his removal was largely precautionary. There's a chance the A's could send Semien for an X-ray in the coming days if there's some lingering soreness, but the fact that they didn't send him for one immediately is encouraging.
Semien, who has a .346/.333./.538 line through 26 spring at-bats, is focused on getting on base more consistently in 2017, John Shea of SFGate.com reports. "You see if you can shrink the zone a little, wait for your pitch and be more patient instead of being overly aggressive and getting yourself out," Semien said. "You do that, you're probably going to walk a little more and get more hits." Semien experienced an impressive power surge in 2016, posting career highs in doubles (27), home runs (27), RBI (75), slugging percentage (.435) and OPS (.735). He also set a new high-water mark with 51 walks, which came over 621 plate appearances, and he posted just a .238 average and .300 OBP, numbers he's looking to boost significantly in the coming campaign. The slugging shortstop actually was among the more patient hitters in baseball: The 4.16 pitches per plate appearance he averaged ranked him ninth in the AL and 19th in the majors. However, the veteran had a notable weakness with two-strike at-bats, particularly on full counts, scenarios in which he hit .164 and struck out 29 times. He also hit an anemic .043 on 0-2 counts, .170 in 1-2 counts and .173 in 2-2 counts, further illustrating his struggles with his back against the wall. Semien therefore will look to have greater discipline in those situations, which could propel his all-around game to the next level. "That's probably the next step for him," manager Bob Melvin said of Semien's 3-2 approach. "Obviously, he's gotten to the point where he can get into the count. It's finishing it off and maybe taking a walk and not trying to chase a pitch. Sometimes that's tough for a power guy to do."
Semien went 3-for-3 with a pair of run-scoring singles, an RBI double, a run and a stolen base in Tuesday's 21-13 Cactus League win over the Diamondbacks. Semien now has a team-high seven RBI and is slashing .333/.333/.611 over 18 at-bats. Based on early returns, the 26-year-old appears primed to build on a 2016 campaign in which he posted a career-high 27 homers and 75 RBI while boasting a personal-best .611 slugging percentage and .197 ISO.