Toronto Blue Jays: Marcus Semien is the engine that makes the team go

Jul 4, 2021; Buffalo, New York, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien (10) during the seventh inning at Sahlen Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 4, 2021; Buffalo, New York, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien (10) during the seventh inning at Sahlen Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Blue Jays are loaded with talent and are sending four players to the All-Star Game in Colorado next week.

Most of the hype around the team goes to MVP contender Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and five-tool star (six, if you count his luxurious flow) Bo Bichette, which is well deserved. The player who makes the Blue Jays really go though is second baseman Marcus Semien.

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The 30-year-old is having his best season in the majors this year after signing a one-year, $18 million deal with the Jays in the offseason. Semien had a down year in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, following a third-place finish in MVP voting in 2019 as a member of the Oakland Athletics.

General manager Ross Atkins and the front office deserve a ton of credit for poaching Semien from the A’s, realizing his depressed value was incongruent with his talent and track record.

The San Francisco native has not disappointed in his first campaign with Toronto. According to Stathead, Semien is second among all position players in Wins Above Replacement in 2020. WAR represents the number of wins the player has added to the team above what a replacement player (think AAA or AAAA) would add.

Only Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres has produced more WAR than Semien so far this season. The Blue Jays second baseman is ahead of teammates Guerrero and Bichette, as well as every other hitter in baseball not nicknamed ‘El Niño’.

Marcus Semien is doing it all from the leadoff spot for the Toronto Blue Jays

The former sixth-round pick has done it with a balance of power and speed, and sterling defence at second and short. Semien is tied for third in Defensive WAR, to go with an exceptional offensive season to date. He has cranked out 21 home runs, 54 RBI and stolen 10 bases while batting leadoff 73 times this season.

Four of his 21 dingers have come to lead off a game and nine have led off an inning. He is the straw that stirs the drink for the rest of Toronto’s vaunted lineup. This will be his first All-Star Game, despite being voted third in the 2019 AL MVP race.

The former University of California star has been a steady leader in a young clubhouse, crediting his experience in the big leagues as being helpful in another strange season of home games in Dunedin and Buffalo.

"“The experience is so important in this league,” Semien said to reporters. “I feel just as good as I did [when I was] 24, 25 with the A’s, coming up playing shortstop. But the experience wasn’t there. So there were some growing pains that I needed to get through”."

A rash of unfortunate injuries to prized offseason acquisition George Springer has left more of the load on Semien and he has easily been the team’s best free agent signing this year. Springer is back in the lineup and pitchers everywhere have to be terrified by the relentless attack from Toronto.

It is too early to say how much Marcus Semien will command on his next contract, after ‘betting on himself’ like another Toronto fan-favourite. Atkins would be wise to start discussions now, if he hasn’t already, especially if ownership is serious about spending to win. The future stars have arrived, the time is now. Marcus Semien should absolutely be a part of it for the Toronto Blue Jays.

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What do you think about Marcus Semien’s season with the Toronto Blue Jays so far? What would be a fair contract to extend his time in Toronto? Let us know in the comments below.