Athletics

Why A's shortstop Marcus Semien could be MVP candidate again in 2020

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Why A's shortstop Marcus Semien could be MVP candidate again in 2020

Marcus Semien fell short of winning the AL MVP Award, but his third-place finish might be just the beginning.

At 29 years old, the A's shortstop still is very much in his prime and has significantly improved in each of his five seasons with Oakland.

When Semien first joined the A's at the age of 24, he was a decent hitter but looked completely lost in the field. In 2015, he committed a league-high 35 errors, prompting many to believe that he could never develop into a major-league shortstop.

But with the help of Ron Washington, Semien went to work. He spent hours upon hours working on his footwork, glovework, and consistency. Fast forward to 2019 and Semien has transformed into a back-to-back Gold Glove Award finalist.

Semien's offensive development has been just as impressive. This past season, the Bay Area native slashed .285/.369/.522 with 33 home runs, 43 doubles, 92 RBI, and 123 runs scored. He notched career-highs in just about every offensive stat imaginable, ranking near the top of the majors in all of the important categories.

Most impressive, Semien's 8.1 WAR (wins above replacement) was fourth-best in baseball, behind only Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, and Cody Bellinger. Semien started all 162 games at shortstop, batting in the leadoff spot for 145 of those contests. And the scariest part for the rest of the league is that he continues to get better.

"He becomes a better hitter every year," A's manager Bob Melvin said earlier this year. "Nobody works harder than Marcus Semien. He knows what he needs to work on."

After the All-Star break, Semien arguably was the most productive hitter in baseball. In 70 games, he slashed .304/.396/.621 with 19 homers, 22 doubles, five triples, 44 RBI, and 62 runs.

If Semien continues at that rate next season, it would translate to 44 home runs, 51 doubles, 12 triples, 102 RBI, and 143 runs over the course of 162 games. That certainly is MVP-caliber.

Of course, the A's have a major decision to make -- Semien is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season and figures to see some big-money offers. Will Oakland sign its star shortstop to an expensive extension or instead turn the reigns over to young prospect Jorge Mateo?

[RELATED: A's Luzardo an intriguing case for 2020 Rookie of the Year]

Semien is entering his final year of arbitration, where he is projected to get $13.5 million. After that, the A's could choose to make a qualifying offer to Semien for 2021, but there is no guarantee he would accept.

If 2020 does end up being Semien's last year in Oakland, it figures to be another special one. This year he was an MVP finalist. Perhaps next year he'll just be the MVP.

How Mike Fiers rewarded Jurickson Profar, Ramon Laureano for no-hitter

How Mike Fiers rewarded Jurickson Profar, Ramon Laureano for no-hitter

It was a unique night. 

Back on May 7, 2019, the lights went out at Oakland Coliseum, causing a delay in play for the A’s as they hosted the Cincinnati Reds. On that same night, A's pitcher Mike Fiers threw the second no-hitter of his career.

He threw 131 pitches in the outing which was the most since, well, his previous no-hitter in 2015 with the Houston Astros.

It was also an entertaining display for those watching.

In the sixth inning, Jurickson Profar made a spectacular catch at second base to help Fiers preserve his no-no. It was immediately followed by a stellar catch from center fielder Ramón Laureano to rob Joey Votto of a home run. The robbery would have made Mike Trout blush. 

They were rewarded for their efforts, as Fiers compensated the two with a gift.

“Yeah, I had to,” Fiers told NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil. “That’s just something that happens in baseball. Someone makes a great play and for the game to turn out the way it did for me, it’s a big accomplishment for me, so for them to help me in that way, to go out of their way to make a crazy play, you got to give them a little something.”

Fiers said they got “nice little watches.”

“It wasn’t anything too crazy,” Fiers said. 

He said he appreciates everyone on the team and would have gifted every guy a watch, but admitted it would have been pricey at that point.

[RELATED: Watch A's defensive gems preserve Fiers' no-hitter]

If A's third baseman Matt Chapman received a watch for every stellar play he made, the watch industry would never suffer again.

It’s nice to see Laureano and Profar were taken care of.

What Brodie Brazil misses about sports during the coronavirus hiatus

What Brodie Brazil misses about sports during the coronavirus hiatus

Editor's note: Like you, NBC Sports Bay Area insiders, reporters and analysts are feeling the sports void during the coronavirus stoppage. They'll share their thoughts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in "What I Miss About Sports." Next up in the series: A's and Sharks Pre and Postgame host Brodie Brazil.

Needless to say, the last few weeks have left us far outside our normal rhythms, expectations, and comfort zones. The world instantly changed on a lot of levels, including the immediate absence of sports.

What’s clear already: I miss the personalities.

Sure, we can keep in touch with our favorite athletes or broadcasters during isolation. In fact, many are doing a nice job filling the void on social media. 

But there’s just nothing like these human beings, showing human emotions, while in their element.

There are easy examples.

A Khris Davis home run leads to a salute around third base, shortly after Glen Kuiper declares “That baby is gone.”

A Logan Couture go-ahead goal and celebration so eloquently detailed by Randy Hahn, whose voice hits a different gear to go along with the crowd and ship horn of SAP Center.

I miss Joe Thornton’s trademark shirtless interviews.

I miss Mark Canha’s statement bat flips.

And on a deeper level, I also miss the personalities of my colleagues.

Curtis Brown and Scott Hannan regularly try to find hockey segments we can “demonstrate” in studio, which usually end in my shame or injury. Producer Jace Griggs is their accomplice. And no matter how it ever looks on screen, I love every second of it. 

Bip Roberts, Shooty Babitt and Dave Stewart are guys I spend enough time with during summer months to call family. We’re together many hours across many straight days covering baseball, sharing stories, and trying to make our shows unique.

This should be the busiest time of my work year, alternating teams and games every other day as the seasons overlap. I should be seeing plenty of SAP Center and the Coliseum. The Shark head, and the Treehouse.

[RELATED: Dave Stewart describes coronavirus scare]

But those are just places, and they will be back, and eventually back to normal. 

It’s the personalities I truly care about. How they and their families endure the current pandemic. Because I am certain once the time is appropriate, these personalities will help us find the distraction, the normality, and eventually the enjoyment we should never again take for granted.

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