TORONTO -- Marcus Semien added another accolade to his brilliant 2021 season on Sunday, winning the American League Gold Glove Award at second base.
Not only is this Semien’s first career Gold Glove Award at age 31, it came at a relatively new position for the veteran star. Semien had been an everyday shortstop for the A’s since 2015 and hadn’t played second base with any regularity since 2014 with the White Sox, but he made the move on a one-year, $18 million deal to join the Blue Jays on Jan. 30.
The deal worked for both sides, as Semien re-established himself as one of the league’s premier middle infielders entering free agency. Semien and young shortstop Bo Bichette quickly became close and their on-field chemistry was evident as the two formed a new double-play tandem through Spring Training, but Semien’s defense throughout the season exceeded all expectations.
Semien is the first Blue Jays player to win a Gold Glove Award since Marcus Stroman in 2017 and the club’s first second baseman since Orlando Hudson in 2005. He’s also just the third non-rookie to win the award at a position where he’d played fewer than 30 games the season prior, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
This award won’t surprise anyone in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse or front office. From the top of the roster to the bottom and from seasoned executives to younger coaches, Semien’s praises were sung throughout the Blue Jays’ 91-71 season.
“As I’ve sat and talked with [general manager] Ross [Atkins], we’ve thought about our collective decades of experience watching players, and he’s one of the more unique guys that we’ve observed or experienced,” Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro said recently. “I’ve seldom seen a tougher guy who plays every single day, who works harder than him, who’s more committed to being a consistent, dependable and reliable player and teammate. He is certainly a role model for all of us in the way we approach our jobs and for our players.”
Semien’s glove deserves some of the spotlight at this point, too, because so much of the attention through ’21 went to his offence. Rightfully so, as Semien set an AL/NL record for home runs by a second baseman with 45.
It took Semien a month to get rolling, but he won AL Player of the Month in May and formed a one-two punch with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the top third of the order. Those two could find themselves together in the top three of AL MVP voting soon, too.
Much of Semien’s offensive value came from the leadoff spot, where he stepped in for an injured George Springer more than once. Semien finished the season hitting .265 with an .873 OPS, including a career-high 102 RBIs to go along with his 45 homers. Semien’s 2020 season took a dip, but when he pairs his ’21 performance with his ’19 campaign -- during which he finished third in AL MVP voting -- the 31-year-old makes a very strong case entering the open market.
Re-signing Semien will be among the Blue Jays’ top priorities, of course, but he’ll have plenty of suitors. Already proven as a shortstop, this award solidifies Semien’s defensive reputation at multiple positions.