OAKLAND – Khris Davis, Matt Chapman, and Ramón Laureano have dominated the headlines early this season, and rightfully so, but you could make a strong argument that Marcus Semien has been Oakland's best player through 10 games.
The A's shortstop leads the team in batting average (.333), on-base percentage (.429), hits (12), and runs (7). He's also tied for the lead with two doubles and six walks.
"I'm just trying to hit the ball hard," Semien told NBC Sports California. "Very simple. I'm prepared. Do your homework and just know who you're facing. There are a lot of new guys in the league now so you want to do your homework. You don't want to go up there empty-handed. You want to have all the info you can get and put together an approach that works for you."
Added manager Bob Melvin: "He becomes a better hitter every year. Nobody works harder than Marcus Semien. He knows what he needs to work on. He takes coaching very well. Whether it's where he's come from with the defense to him as a hitter – at one point in time he was just a power hitter – now he's just a better hitter. He continues to get better because, one, he's confident and, two, nobody's going to outwork him."
Three years ago, Semien belted a career-high 27 home runs but hit just .238. Now in his seventh major league season, the 28-year-old has worked hard to improve as an all-around player.
"There's a lot to that," Semien said. "You work hard so you can win ballgames. You work hard to provide for your family. This game gives you a lot of opportunities. You want to take every single opportunity you can to get the most out of it. You don't want to leave anything behind or have any regrets."
Semien's versatility in the lineup has already proven extremely valuable to Oakland. He has started games in four different spots in the order this season: first, second, seventh, and eighth. But his approach at the plate doesn't change.
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"You just want to do what you can to hit the ball hard," Semien said. "No matter where I am in the lineup, I want to hit strikes. It doesn't matter what the count is if you get a hit. If they're not throwing you strikes, you want to take them and get walks – whatever you can do to get on base, no matter where you are in the lineup."
Through 10 games, Semien has done that better than anyone on the A's.