Breakout MVP Candidate: Marcus Semien
The MLB WAR leaderboard is chock full of the best in baseball. Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, Alex Bregman and… Marcus Semien? If someone told you that Semien would be the fourth most valuable player in baseball according to ESPN WAR, I don’t even know if he would have believed you.
Look at his numbers: 162 games played, a franchise-record 123 runs, 33 home runs (second-most in A’s history by a shortstop behind Miguel Tejada’s 34 in his MVP 2002 season) and a career-high 92 RBIs and 43 doubles while slashing .285/.369/.522 (an .890 OPS).
He broke Rickey Henderson’s record for home runs from the leadoff spot and was top five in the AL in hits, runs, doubles, triples and walks.
But the biggest surprise (amazingly) is his defensive prowess. Despite playing all 162 games, Semien committed 12 errors, eighth-lowest among shortstops and good for a .981 fielding percentage (fourth in MLB) and a 3.90 range factor (12th). He led MLB in assists and was fourth in double plays turned, setting himself up for a potential gold glove (and a ma$$ive contract in his future). For comparison, in 2015, Semien had a league-high 35 errors in 2015 and at least 20 in every year before this in which he played 100-plus games.