A's confident Semien is All-Star worthy

July 3rd, 2016

OAKLAND -- The chorus calling for Marcus Semien's selection to the 2016 All-Star Game began in earnest following Monday's 8-3 win over the Giants, when A's manager Bob Melvin vouched for his shortstop after the game.

It's only grown stronger after Semien hit his fourth homer in his last seven games Friday night against the Pirates.

"I don't think there's any doubt," Sonny Gray said Saturday when asked if Semien should be on the American League All-Star team.

"The way he's progressed from last year to this year and even the beginning of this year to now is pretty amazing. He's one of the best in my mind in the league."

"Look at how he's playing," A's coach Ron Washington said. "If you look at this team right here, he's our All-Star. Whether he gets a chance to be it, I don't know, because there's so many good shortstops in this league."

Entering play Saturday, Semien led all American League shortstops with a career-high 17 homers. He's coming on at the right time, hitting .326 with five homers over his last 11 games, and has significantly improved his defense in one year, committing just eight errors through 80 games after making 35 last season -- 28 of which came prior to the All-Star Break.

Semien's a 2.0-win player according to FanGraph's Wins Above Replacement metric, already eclipsing his mark of 1.7 last season. While that number is subject to change based on performance, Semien's worked his name into consideration with the American League's best young shortstops in only his second full Major League season at the position.

"He has a tremendous work ethic along with wanting to be good," Washington said. "And to be good you gotta work."

Every team must have at least one All-Star. Rich Hill and Josh Reddick appeared headed toward a spot before missing chunks of time with injuries. A's reliever Ryan Dull hasn't allowed an inherited runner to score this year, and Danny Valencia and Stephen Vogt have been reliable, but Semien's stood out, having played in every game this season.

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Semien wasn't among the leaders in fan voting at the position and would need to be selected by manager Ned Yost or his fellow All-Stars. He said he hasn't set the All-Star Game as a goal, deferring instead to team-related goals and defensive improvement.

"I know that it's coming up, I know who is out there," Semien said. "Everybody's deserving, it just depends on who is there. Nobody is going to be mad if they're not an All-Star because they know how good this group of guys is."

He was referencing the strong campaigns of others at his position, mentioning Xander Bogaerts, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and Elvis Andrus specifically. But Washington believes Semien's right there with them.

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"If you look at what he's doing offensively he's right there with all the best. If you look at what he's doing defensively, they may have a lot more athletic ability because that is what they've done all their life. Marcus has played outfield, third base, second base and now he's finally playing shortstop on a daily basis," Washington said.

"But it happened in the big leagues. While those guys had time in the Minors Leagues, little league, wherever they played, college, whatever, to learn how to play that position, he's learning it in the Big Leagues. And I guarantee you those guys haven't come as far as Marcus has come in as short a period of time as he has."