Marcus Semien may just be the A’s shortstop of the future
Oakland Athletics’ shortstop Marcus Semien appeared to be a gamble from the start. He was acquired in a roundabout way to replace Addison Russell, who was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Jeff Samardzija, and who’s also been a powerhouse on both offense and defense for Chicago. The Athletics later acquired Semien in a trade that sent Jeff Samardzija to the Chicago White Sox.
Semien had played a total of 81 big league games over the course of two seasons with the White Sox, so he didn’t have much experience playing with the big boys. The A’s however made him their starting shortstop and that hasn’t changed all season despite Semien’s propensity to commit errors, a lot of them.
Out of the 147 games the A’s have played, including Thursday’s 4-2 comeback win over the White Sox, Semien has made an appearance in 146 games. His only days off were ordered by skipper Bob Melvin and in all but one he at least made a pinch-hitting appearance and played defense at shortstop.
It’s hard to understand how that can be. Semien has 34 errors to his name in 2015. In fact, he leads the league in errors out of all players by 13, the next highest number of errors belongs to the New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley with 21. It’s no wonder the A’s are second in the league in errors (110), just one behind the Philadelphia Phillies (111).
Yet, Semien has become quite valuable to the A’s. He’s posting a 2.0 WAR, batting a decent .253 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI. He’s also virtually stopped committing errors compared to early on in the season. Semien made six errors in April, a whopping 12 in May, another six in June, five in July, three in August and just two so far in September.
What was wrong with Semien and what caused the change in his play? The consensus of most who’d seen him play was that he didn’t have the arm to remain a Major League shortstop.
Many thought, and at the time rightfully so, at the All-Star break when Semien had committed 28 errors, including 13 errant throws, that he would easily end the season with 50 or more errors. The last time that happened was in 1950 by Roy Smalley of the Cubs.
Yet in late May, instead of looking for alternatives to Semien, general manager Billy Beane had a brilliant idea. He made a call to the former manager of the Texas Rangers and former A’s third base coach Ron Washington. Washington is known for his ability to help mold infielders.
He was a mentor to six-time Gold Glove winner third baseman Eric Chavez and 2002 American League MVP shortstop Miguel Tejada. He also taught a terrified for catcher named Scott Hatteberg to play first base and it payed off. According to Washington the conversation with Beane went a bit like this,
“He called me and said, ‘I have a kid here who has your name all over him. He could benefit from your drills and your knowledge of infield play,’” Washington said. “My response to him was, ‘Well, Bill, if you want to make him a shortstop, I’m going to make him a shortstop.”
To find out how Marcus Semien, who made 12 errors in the month of May, changed into a shortstop who has made just three errors last month and only two so far in September check out this post in its entirety on Today’s Knuckleball using the link below: