Marcus Semien was both quantity and quality in 2019.
The A's shortstop started all 162 games and was a finalist for both American League MVP and Gold Glove Awards. He also was named to the second-team "All-MLB team," which was announced Tuesday.
It only raises the value for one of Oakland's longest-tenured players, who is expected to receive a notable raise in his final year of arbitration.
“But going forward, we all know what comes after that,” Semien told NBC Sports California in an exclusive interview Tuesday at the MLB Winter Meetings. “That is the business side. Of course, I love winning, love being home and love my teammates. Love going to battle with guys who share the same qualities as me.”
Semien doesn’t hide his preference to stay in Oakland long term: “Of course, that would be ideal," he said.
The shortstop also said his camp wouldn’t want to currently interfere with VP Billy Beane and GM David Forst continuing to build the team before re-approaching a long term deal.
“As we approach Spring Training, we’ll see what happens,” Semien said.
Here's what else Semien touched upon during our conversation.
Success In A New Role
It’s easy to forget last season was actually a transitional one for Semien, who had previously been hitting in the bottom third of the lineup before becoming the became the regular leadoff guy.
“The amount of at-bats is a big one for me," Marcus said. “The more at-bats I get, I feel the better I get."
Batting first also helped him gain a better grasp on games.
“Most of the time it gets you in the rhythm of the game right away. I think in years past, I hit seventh, eighth or ninth, sometimes you don’t get your first chance to bat until the third inning. It’s harder to get into a rhythm, so I tried to take advantage of that this year."
Power or consistency
In his first four seasons with Oakland, Marcus' bat always was a strong point, through either consistency or power. In 2019, he excelled in both regards, clubbing 33 homers and a .285 average.
“The average is a byproduct of getting more pitches to hit," he said. "Getting in better counts to do more damage, that’s where the power comes from."
Especially noticeable was Semien’s ability to crowd the plate and still get around on inside pitches this past summer.
“A lot of my teammates laugh at it sometimes when I sometimes pull my hands in to hit a pitch that’s off the plate inside. But it’s definitely a quality that I want to keep, and a weapon to use if they throw it in there.”
Marcus has paired with several different middle infielders over the years, and it seems like consistency at second base would benefit both him and the team. The departure of Jurickson Profar opens up a menu of at least four in-house choices for Oakland, and potentially anyone else they might acquire in the offseason.
“The platoon system has worked out for some teams,” said Semien. “But in my opinion, we’ve got an infield where three guys play every day, and have gotten better year in and year out. So we’ll see what they do at second base.”
Is this the window?
Optimism is high surrounding a team that has won 194 games over the last two seasons. After seeing the arrival of highly anticipated prospects like A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo debut last year, many are wondering whether Oakland is entering a window for something special over the next three to five years.
But Semien is not focusing on where the A’s have been, but rather where they need to go.
“Our division is only going to get better," he said. "Especially with the Rangers getting a new ballpark and looking to spend more money on free agents. Anaheim has one of the best lineups in the game, if they add pitching they’ll be right up there too.
"For us, we can’t take anything for granted, we need to get better and stay healthy as a group.”