Marcus Semien filling void in leadoff spot for A's

Marcus Semien filling void in leadoff spot for A's

As deep and productive as the A's lineup has been this season, the one thing it has lacked is a true leadoff hitter.

The team hopes 23-year-old outfielder Dustin Fowler will eventually fill that role, but for this season, the job belongs to Marcus Semien.

The A's shortstop has started all 43 games this season, batting leadoff in 27 of them. The other 16, he hit second.

While Semien, 27, is not your prototypical leadoff hitter, he has found ways to get on base and score runs. Semien leads the A's with 31 runs scored and three stolen bases, and he ranks second with 51 hits and 10 doubles, and third with a .276 batting average.

Semien has also mixed in some power, belting four home runs, his most recent coming Wednesday night in Boston, and 20 RBI.

The power numbers shouldn't surprise anyone, as Semien has displayed impressive home run prowess in previous seasons, including a career-high 27 in 2016.

Semien has starred in the East Bay ever since high school, when he hit .471 as a junior for St. Mary's College High School in Berkeley. He stayed in Berkeley to play his college baseball at Cal.

Now in his sixth major league season, and fourth with the A's, Semien is on pace to set career marks in hits, walks, doubles, runs, batting average, and on-base percentage. He has reached base safely in 39 of his 43 games.

With all the power hitters in Oakland's lineup, from veterans like Khris Davis and Jed Lowrie to youngsters like Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, it can be easy to overlook Semien's contributions. But the A's offensive production truly begins at the top of the order.

POLL: A's Memorable Moments -- Braden's Perfect Game vs Long's game-saving catch in Fenway


POLL: A's Memorable Moments -- Braden's Perfect Game vs Long's game-saving catch in Fenway

PROGRAMMING NOTE: NBC Sports California is looking back at the A's 50 Memorable Moments since the franchise relocated to Oakland in 1968. Below are the next two moments you can vote on. Tune into A's Pregame Live tonight at 6:30pm to watch highlights of the two moments. After the A's and Padres conclude, tune into A's Postgame Live to see which moment will move on to the next round!

1. Dallas Braden's Perfect Game on Mother's Day 2010 (11-time winner -- Defeated The Big Three's sweep of the D'backs in Arizona in 2001)

(From Dallas Braden)

Well, they haven’t taken it away yet so I guess it might not be a dream after all. It’s still insane to think that on such a special day for so many people, my teammates and I were able to etch ourselves into the hearts of A’s fans everywhere.

In the moment, I had no clue. At the same time, I was fully aware. Completely focused and emotionally distracted at the same time. Hell, I talked myself into the wrong count in the last at-bat of the game. The 27th out. In that moment I had no clue. No clue I’d become the vehicle for such an emotional moment shared between mothers and their families across baseball that special day. I do believe that’s what I was -- merely a vehicle to connect people through our beautiful game. My mom, along with the baseball gods, and Landon Powell, I guess, all steered us down the path of history and to be able to share and relive those special moments and memories is a blessing a young little leaguer can only dream of.

I hope that through my passion for the game you feel the same love I, myself, my wife, baby girl, and grandmother have felt from each of you, the fans of the Green & Gold. We couldn’t be happier to share this Mother’s Day and every Mother’s Day from here on out, TOGETHER! It’s a perfect fit if you ask me.


2. Terrence Long's game-saving catch over the wall at Fenway in 2002

(From Ben Ross)

On August 7, 2002, Terrence Long stunned Fenway Park and the entire city of Boston. With two on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and the A's clinging to a 3-2 lead over the Red Sox, Manny Ramirez sent a fly ball deep to right-center field. Long took off from his position in center field and made a leaping catch over the wall to preserve the win for Oakland.

Long was immediately tackled by fellow outfielder Jermaine Dye in celebration. Closer Billy Koch was so happy, he ran all the way to the outfield to give Long a bear hug.

Six days later, the A's would begin their historic 20-game win streak. They would go on to win the AL West with a record of 103-59.


In all the whispers of a Giants-A's management shuffle, one notion stands out


In all the whispers of a Giants-A's management shuffle, one notion stands out

The San Francisco Chronicle shares with us the thinking of an unthinkable notion.

Brian Sabean, Oakland A's general manager.

But first, a bit of fairness. The author, Susan Slusser, who knows the A’s well enough to perform elective surgery on most of the executives and all the players, doesn’t say this will happen, should happen or even might happen. Indeed, she slides the notion neatly into paragraph 14 and describes the scenario as “whispers . . . within both teams.”

But the Giants’ baseball brainbuckets, Sabean, Bobby Evans and Bruce Bochy all have contracts that expire next year, and A’s owner John Fisher is remaking the organization’s front office all around the baseball folks, and one can fairly assume that he’ll get around to them if the results aren’t more invigorating in a hinders-in-seats kind of way.

So some folks see a potential resource swap in each team’s future, though there are contractual and emotional complications galore, starting with this seemingly obvious one:

Larry Baer and Billy Beane would work together with the same mutual devotion typically found in firemen and arsonists. That seems monumentally unlikely, Beane would have to divest his ownership stake in the A’s (millions are just a phone call away, of course), and Slusser does not offer that as a potential scenario.

But maybe it isn’t Beane but Forst whom Baer might covet. A job with resources might interest Forst, but his loyalty to Beane has precluded such a notion to date. Beane, for his part, might decide it’s time to become full Johnny Soccer and become more involved with Barnsley, the English team of which he owns a slice, and AZ Alkmaar, the Dutch team for which he offers consultations at the standard rate.

As to the reverse, it is hard to imagine Sabean or Bochy starting over, either in Oakland for the spectral John Fisher or anywhere else, given that Sabean would be 62 and Bochy 64. Their ages aren’t the disqualifiers, though; the mileage is. Bochy will have managed just over 4,100 games by the end of next year, seventh on the all-time list, and Sabean will have run a ballclub longer than anyone but Branch Rickey and Ed Barrow. To go across the bay to supervise the transition to a new ballpark for an apparently undercapitalized (by baseball standards) boss they barely know seems nearly preposterous.

It’s a provocative thought, of course, or rather, set of thoughts, and by no means is it inconceivable. But like most thoughts, clearing the “inconceivable” bar is light years from “this makes perfect sense.” Baer’s main goal has been to drive the A’s into the sea, and not by poaching its people, and Fisher would seem to want a fresh start, based on his recent front office changes.

But there’s one notion that doesn’t actually touch this story directly, and it is this. If Fisher is thinking of changing the baseball operation as he has the rest of the hierarchy, it would be an indication that intends to keep the A’s rather than sell them, at least any time soon. There would be no value in making such dramatic changes only to have a new owner come in and make them again.

So maybe those are the whispers that should be whispered – that the A’s makeover leads to an idea that they are not longing for the badlands of Portland or Charlotte after all. If that is the case, that would be a bigger development than the notion that they could conceivably raid the bully across the bridge for baseball talent.