A's Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks deserving of MLB All-Team honors

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AP

A's Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks deserving of MLB All-Team honors

Major League Baseball has initiated the first-ever All-MLB Team. This was put forth for fans to vote on their favorite players from the 2019 season's entirety.

This is a bit like the All-Star selections only that, in this case, it's not in the middle of the season, and with these, there are both first and second teams. Also, this team will not be broken up by leagues and players were previously nominated -- pretty cool, right?

I voted for my 2019 All-MLB Team and here are my results:

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso put on a show at the plate this season and during the Home Run Derby. Sure, we dig the long ball, but we also appreciate a guy who shows his emotions when he does something great on the field, like setting a rookie home-run record with 53 dingers this season.

The middle-infielders as of late have become these gems filled with power, which is a characteristic we didn't see in the earlier eras of the game. 

For second base, Houston Astros star José Altuve proved once again why he is a constant force to be reckoned with. The six-time All-Star finished his 2019 campaign slashing .298/.353/.550 with 31 home runs and 74 RBI in 124 games. 

Marcus Semien was the vote at the shortstop position. While there were plenty that deserved the honors (Jorge Polanco and Xander Bogaerts should not go unmentioned), Semien was such a fascinating player this season.

Sure, there's a slight bias over here, but imagine having someone only get better as the season went on. Semien started in all 162 games this season and showed no signs of tiring, finishing with 33 homers and doubling last season's total. He was also third in AL MVP voting behind Mike Trout and Alex Bregman. 

Semien didn't receive All-Star honors this season, which is a shame. He deserves something after the show he put on.

Speaking of Bregman ... I voted for him at third base, the position that was the toughest to select across the roster.

He, Matt Chapman and Nolan Arenado each put up a phenomenal season and reminded you just why it's called the hot corner.

For Bregman, he was sensational across the board in each hitting category, finishing 2019 with a .296 average, 41 homers and a 1.015 OPS. Arenado matched Bregman's long-ball numbers with 41, but ya know -- Coors. 

And that energy is contagious.

Outfielders were easy to vote for.

Trout, Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. I really hope you guys won't argue with me on those.

The starting pitchers, for the most part, hosted arms from the final two teams still playing October baseball. Justin Verlander earned his second Cy Young Award, posting a 2.58 ERA with 300 strikeouts in 223 innings and an MLB-leading 0.80 WHIP.

Well-deserved. 

Verlander's former teammate Gerrit Cole was behind him in Cy Young voting, leading the AL with a 2.50 ERA and MLB with 326 strikeouts and 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

I also voted for Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and once again, I hope there are no arguments there. If there is, I have plenty of photos of them drenched in champagne celebrating a World Series championship to back me up.

Former A and current Cincinnati Red Sonny Gray didn't reach his 2015 heights, but he dropped his ERA drastically from his 2018 campaign, boasting a 2.87 ERA with the Redlegs. His season deserved to be recognized.

From the bullpen, A's Liam Hendriks got a vote because he not only put up the numbers but switched to closer role responsibilities and did it smoothly and masterfully.

He finished his 2019 All-Star season with a 1.80 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 85 innings with a 0.97 WHIP.

[RELATED: Hendriks shift in energy factors in success with A's]

How'd I do? Let me know.

The winners for first and second-team honors will be announced at this year's Winter Meetings in San Diego. 

Pinder: Position switch at Single-A Stockton sped up development

Pinder: Position switch at Single-A Stockton sped up development

Chad Pinder is making a strong impression with the A’s right now, but then again his road to the big leagues trained him to make the most of whatever opportunity comes his way.

When Pinder was drafted by the A’s in 2013 as a shortstop out of Virginia Tech, they were loaded at that position with highly touted prospects such as Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson. But it was that infield depth that opened the door to Pinder gaining the versatility that’s served him so well this season in Oakland.

In 2014, Robertson was entrenched at shortstop for Single-A Stockton and the A’s shifted Pinder over to second base. Hardly viewing it as a setback of any kind, Pinder instead embraced that switch.

“Honestly, with those two guys in the organization, it opened up an opportunity for me to get a ton of reps at second base, which helped with my development more than anything,” Pinder said on the latest edition of the A’s Insider Podcast.

And how things change.

In July 2014, Russell was traded to the Cubs in a deal that brought starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland. Russell became a core piece to the Chicago team that won the World Series last season. The A’s then dealt Robertson as part of a package to the Tampa Bay Rays after the 2014 season, getting Ben Zobrist as the main piece back. That eased the logjam at shortstop, and though the A’s would add another stud shortstop prospect to the mix in Franklin Barreto that same winter, the shortstop position was back in play for Pinder.

But looking back, he sees it as a good thing that there was so much competition at shortstop while he was fighting to the climb the ladder of the farm system.

“I actually learned a ton from Daniel Robertson, just about how to go about getting ready for a game. And it’s funny to say that because he’s younger than I am,” Pinder said. “I think having those guys (Russell and Robertson) was very beneficial to me, and over the past couple years with trades or whatever it may be, my opportunity switched over to shortstop.”

Also in the podcast, Pinder shares how he juggled schoolwork with baseball over the past four years to complete his degree from Virginia Tech in communications. He graduated in December.

Pinder recalls playing games in the Arizona Fall League after the 2015 season, then heading over to the Mesa Public Library to finish homework. He crammed most of his classes into the baseball offseason, but he was pulling double duty during the 2016 season, even studying during road trips with the A’s after getting his first call-up in August.

He looks forward to possibly putting his communications degree to good use someday, though that likely won’t be any time soon. Pinder, 25, is looking like a potential piece of the A’s future moving forward. He’s assumed everyday shortstop duties as the A’s await Marcus Semien’s return from a fractured wrist, and Pinder’s .896 on base-plus-slugging percentage is second only to Yonder Alonso on the team.

“I really feel like I want to stay in baseball as long as I possibly can,” Pinder said. “Obviously you want to play as long as you can, but whether it be scouting, coaching — college or professional — or even getting into the sports broadcasting stuff, I feel like there’s a lot of ways I can go after my playing career is over.”

Happy with Astros, Reddick wanted to stay with A's before 2016 trade

Happy with Astros, Reddick wanted to stay with A's before 2016 trade

Josh Reddick has made the full transition from green and gold to navy blue and orange.

He’s a Houston Astro through and through, and he thinks he landed in an ideal spot when he signed a four-year $52 million contract with Houston last winter.

But the former A’s outfielder still maintains he had a strong desire to sign a long-term extension with Oakland before he was dealt away at last summer’s trade deadline.

In a sit-down chat for the A’s Insider Podcast, Reddick says that despite the team’s history of trading their free agents-to-be or letting them walk, he held out hope that the A’s might buck that trend and re-sign him.

“Early on I thought there might have been a slim chance,” Reddick said. “… It was definitely somewhere I really wanted to make it happen. Once we realized the numbers weren’t gonna line up, I think I knew deep down it wasn’t gonna happen because I didn’t hear back from them after I counter-offered what they offered me.

“You learn to live with it, you expect it from those guys. But I guess deep down I kind of had a special feeling they might have made an (exception) for me.”

Reddick said the A’s never presented an offer that reached four years in length, which was important to him to get.

To be fair, the A’s had reason to be hesitant to sign the 30-year-old Reddick to a four-year deal. He missed significant time with injuries over his four-plus seasons in Oakland. And in packaging him and left-handed starter Rich Hill in a trade to the Dodgers, they scored an excellent return package in right-handers Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes, bolstering a system that needed more quality young pitching.

Among other highlights from the podcast, Reddick still is perplexed that the A’s traded off so many key players in the offseason following their 2014 Wild Card loss to the Royals. Third baseman Josh Donaldson, starter Jeff Samardzija, first baseman Brandon Moss and catcher Derek Norris, all All-Stars in ’14, were dealt the following winter.

“We still had (Scott) Kazmir, we had Sonny, and Samardzija was coming back,” Reddick said. “If you put Donaldson back in the lineup, Moss back in the lineup, it just changes the whole outcome and we probably don’t finish in dead last like we did that year. You just never know. And to this day I still don’t see how it made sense for that (Donaldson) trade to work, but luckily I’m just a player and not a manager or GM.”

In his first experience with free agency last winter, Reddick was happy he and the Astros hammered out a deal in November, taking away the stress of spending the bulk of the offseason wondering where he’d land.

“On a team like this, with this lineup and this hitter-friendly ballpark, it’s kind of hard to turn it down because they did come so aggressively and made it clear I was their No. 1 option. … When a team comes at you like that, it kind of makes your job easier and your decision a lot easier.”