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Marcus Semien's Sensational Season

September 26, 2021
The Blue Jays have muscled their way back into the AL Wild Card race, and though it’s easy to say that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has led the charge, the all-around excellence of Marcus Semien has also been a huge factor.

If not for Shohei Ohtani, Semien would be leading the majors in our player value stat, Total Runs, which combines hitting, baserunning, fielding, and pitching performance. He currently ranks second, and though he’s 30 runs behind Ohtani, he’s 14 runs ahead of third place Cedric Mullins.

Two seasons ago, Semien placed third in that stat, only one run behind Trevor Story and Cody Bellinger for the MLB lead.

The Blue Jays have four players in the top 20 of the Total Runs leaderboard with Guerrero Jr. (T-4th), Bo Bichette (T-15th), and Robbie Ray (T-15th) joining their team leader.

In between his outstanding 2019 and 2021 seasons, Semien hit .223 with a .679 OPS and cost the Athletics 6 runs with his below-average defense in the shortened 2020 season. This likely cost him a sizable free agent contract, as he settled instead on a one-year $18 million deal with Toronto.

The move across the border and a position switch from shortstop to second base did Semien good. He’s saved 8 runs there this season, which is tied for third in the majors. Whit Merrifield of the Royals ranks No. 1. Semien’s range numbers have been stellar, as he ranks second in plays made above average when going to his right (+8) and fourth in plays made above average when going to his left (+6).

Semien is also 14-of-15 on stolen base attempts this season and ranks just outside the top 20 in our Net Baserunning Gain stat. The 14 stolen bases are a career high. He’s been safe on 21 of his last 22 stolen base attempts dating back to 2019.

Semien’s numbers have been boosted by a recent hot streak in which he has 8 home runs and 17 RBI in a 13-game stretch. He’s been feasting on fastballs all season, and his 2021 numbers against them (1.050 OPS, 28 home runs) nearly mirror those he had in 2019 (1.024 OPS, 25 home runs).

Per Statcast, Semien’s average exit velocity is 90.1 MPH, a nearly 4 MPH jump from the shortened 2020 season. Only Tyler O’Neill, Joey Votto, and Ohtani have had bigger jumps than Semien has.

It has been a good year for second base on the Total Runs leaderboard. Ozzie Albies of the Braves and Merrifield of the Royals rank tied for eighth. Jorge Polanco of the Twins, who also moved from shortstop to second base this season, is 12th.

There’s also Trea Turner (6th), who has moved to second base since his trade from the Nationals to the Dodgers, and Jake Cronenworth of the Padres (14th), who plays mostly second base, but also gets time at shortstop and first base.

They’ve all been great, but among this group, it’s Semien who has been second to none.

Most Total Runs – 2021 Season

Player Current Team Total Runs
Shohei Ohtani Angels 168
Marcus Semien Blue Jays 138
Cedric Mullins Orioles 124
Carlos Correa Astros 123
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Blue Jays 123
Trea Turner Dodgers 122
Austin Riley Braves 118
Ozzie Albies Braves 116
Whit Merrifield Royals 116
Zack Wheeler Phillies 116

COMMENTS (1 Comment)

"he settled instead on a one-year $18 million deal"

I'll never understand the idea that someone has to 'settle' for $18 million.

4:17 AM Sep 27th
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