Athletics

A's shortstop Marcus Semien named finalist for 2019 AL MVP award

A's shortstop Marcus Semien named finalist for 2019 AL MVP award

Mike Trout. Alex Bregman. Marcus Semien.

Those are your 2019 American League MVP finalists.

The Baseball Writers Association of America revealed the finalists for all the major awards Monday. The winner will be announced on Nov. 14.

Semien played in all 162 games this past season and slashed .285/.369/.522 with 43 doubles, 33 homers and 92 RBI. 

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The A's shortstop has stiff competition for his first major award. Trout, a two-time MVP, clubbed a career-high 45 homers and slashed .291/.438.645 in 134 games for the Los Angeles Angels. Bregman, a first-time finalist alongside Semien, hit a career-high 41 homers and 112 RBI while also slashing a career-best .296/.423/.592 and leading the Astros to an MLB-leading 107 wins. 

Matt Olson views Freddie Freeman positive test as learning experience

Matt Olson views Freddie Freeman positive test as learning experience

Matt Olson spent the MLB hiatus in Atlanta which happened to be one of the first places to open up as far as the shutdowns were concerned. 

The good news was that meant the A’s first baseman was able to put in more work earlier than most in a more comfortable setting but knew the coronavirus was impacting the league -- and even beyond that.

The Georgia native was asked if he had been in contact with Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman who had recently tested positive for coronavirus and was struggling with some of his symptoms. 

“I haven’t had any contact with him,” Olson said in a Zoom interview with reporters on Sunday. “I obviously saw the news that it was hitting him pretty hard and I think his wife posted something that he was the guy that never gets sick and -- that kind of was a little bit of a wakeup to me because I feel like I’m that guy who doesn’t get sick too often and sometimes you could think you are a little invincible especially because we’ve been hearing that healthy people, it doesn’t affect too much.”

Olson knows it was an important moment to show that despite hearing young, healthy individuals are less immune to contracting the virus, that’s not always the case. 

“Obviously you hear everything from both ends of the spectrum now, but it’s eye-opening to see somebody in our situation, a professional athlete, stays in shape, all of that and he hit that wave, that Freeman was hit,” he said.

Olson wants to set a precedent to make sure he and his teammates are doing everything they can to protect themselves and those closest to them. 

“It just goes back to us doing our thing, being smart, not going out, exposing ourselves to those outside of the field, we’ve talked about it, we just have to be smart -- not only as players, but we got staff in here, we have everybody who goes home to their kids, wives, so we just can’t be selfish -- and do the right thing and stay safe.”

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Freeman was one of four Braves players who tested positive and the team’s manager Brian Snitker said on Saturday “it will be a while before” he will be back.

As of Friday, MLB announced there were a total of 66 positive tests which equated to 1.8 percent of the 3,748 samples tested. 

Why A's Matt Olson is perfectly happy steering clear of spotlight

Why A's Matt Olson is perfectly happy steering clear of spotlight

“This is weird,” first baseman Matt Olson told reporters in a Zoom interview on Sunday as he sat in front of an A's backdrop.

The new way we hold interviews will take a bit to adjust to -- just as the two-time Gold Glove Award winner will have to get used to receiving attention. He’s not one for the limelight. 

“That’s kind of how I like it,” Olson said. “You all kind of know that by now.”

Olson was smiling as he made the statement, but staying away from the attention might present a problem. He has his impressive numbers to blame for that.

He won’t be able to get the at-bats he’s used to or deserves in the shortened 60-game season, but Olson never lets a short stint get in the way of his success.

Coming off of a broken hamate bone early last season, despite missing six weeks of play, Olson managed to tally 60 hits in 60 games with 40 RBI in that timeframe. In 127 total games, he finished with a .267/.545/.896 with a .368 wOBA and 134 wRC+. Oh, and he hit 36 balls over the fence as well.

Olson even was in AL MVP talks last season -- well, more like whispers. And A's manager Bob Melvin is sure Olson will be an MVP one day. Perhaps sooner than we think. 

The numbers matter to him, sure -- the attention attached to them? Not so much. But the terms “overlooked,” and “underappreciated” continue to be stamped on the 26-year-old.

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“I just like to go out and do what I do and not make a big deal about it," Olson said. "I do think I’m one of the better first basemen, and go out there and I play with the confidence, but I’m cool if I’m not all in the press when I’m going well.”

That makes this article a bit ironic, doesn’t it? Oh well.