Don’t Sleep on Marcus Semien

Tags: Marcus SemienJorge Mateo, Sleeper, 2018 Projections

Marcus Semien is often overlooked in fantasy baseball.  With the young talented crop of shortstops, it’s easy to see why.  It might seem like Semien has been around a while and that’s true.  He got his first taste of the bigs with the White Sox in 2013 but didn’t become a full time player until he went to Oakland in 2015.  Since then he’s played in 399 games where he has hit 52 HRs and stolen 33 bases.  I’ll do the math for you. That averages out to 21 HRs and 13 steals per 162.  That doesn’t sound all that bad for a shortstop going around pick 225.  I actually think he’ll surpass those numbers in 2018 and here’s why.

First off, remember how I said it seemed like he’s been around for a while?  He’s ONLY going to be 27 in 2018.  So he’s right in the middle of his prime.  He did only hit 10 HRs in 85 games last year but missed a lot of time due to a wrist injury.  That wrist injury sapped a lot of his power when he came back off the DL hitting only 1 HR in August but bounced back with 5 in September.  That was backed up by his increased fly ball% to 43% in the 2nd half and his hard hit% back up over 30%.  The wrist injury is no longer a concern going into 2018.  Oh and did I mention he hit 27 dingers in 2016?  So there’s clearly power in his bat.

That brings us to his approach.  His K rate hovers around 22% but in 2017 his walk rate jumped to a career high 9.8%!  That’s good, he’s being more selective not chasing pitches out of the zone as much and as a result making better contact.  The increase in walks seems like it will stick, he had shown patience in the White Sox minor league system so his OBP should be on the rise. This is necessary because he doesn’t hit for a high average partially due to the elevated FB%.  I do think he got a little unlucky with his BABIP which was .300 in 2017.  He’s got good speed and hits line drives at an over 20% clip.  I mention the speed and while his 12 steals were a career high in 2017, it was only in 85 games and he’s efficient AF on the bases stealing 22 bases in his last 25 attemptsThat’s like 88%!  I’m thinking more like 15-18 in 2018.

I know Jorge Mateo is waiting to take over and he’s one of the more exciting players in the minors right now.  He came over from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal.  He’s got Billy Hamilton speed with developing power!  Scary.  Semien though, is under control through 2020 with the A’s and I don’t see Mateo up in 2018 except maybe in September for a cup of coffee as he’s only played 60 games above high A ball.  So playing time shouldn’t be an issue for Semien who batted almost exclusively in the #1 or 2 spot in the lineup last year.  He’ll have to keep up the walk rate to secure one of those spots for all of 2018.  The good news is, the A’s don’t really have anyone else to hit atop the order.  So, here’s what we are looking at for 2018:

.260/.337 22 HRs, 15 steals, 90+ runs and 68 RBI.  He’s going around pick #225 in Early Mocks.