Semien quietly making strides on defense for A’s

Slowly but surely, Marcus Semien has improved his defense as this season has progressed. 

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Marcus Semien may be the only defensive player in Major League Baseball to lead the league in errors yet feel good about his progress at the same time.

That’s the reality for the Oakland Athletics’ young shortstop at the moment, thanks to a strong showing lately that has left a positive impression on his club. 

The A’s brought coach Ron Washington back into the mix in May to help Semien work on his defensive awareness and fundamental skills, all in a concerted effort to help him cut back on the mistakes. So far, it’s working: as Washington told Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area over the weekend of Semien’s adjustments, "I’m with him every day and I see the progress he makes. I’m sitting up there wanting balls to go to him because I want him to play the ball."

His manager Bob Melvin echoed the same thought, having noticed an uptick in Semien’s level of play: “We all know he has the ability to do it, and he’s showing more consistency. He just looks more confident, and I think success breeds confidence.”

So far in June, Semien has only committed four errors in 18 games, and hasn’t had any defensive miscues since committing two on June 14 in Anaheim. He’s made a few plays requiring some range and a strong throw look easy, which is a good sign for his future development as a defensive player.

Oakland made Semien the centerpiece in the Jeff Samardzija trade due to his offensive promise, and so far he’s delivered in that aspect of his game (entering play Monday slashing .263/.316/.402 with six home runs, 17 RBIs and 22 extra-base hits in 266 official at-bats). 

Despite his early season defensive inefficiencies, Semien didn’t lose any confidence in himself – which is probably a key in his turnaround. As he told Stiglich: “You pay attention to it, everybody does. But you just have to move on, be mentally tough and want the next ball hit to you no matter what. …That’s the professional mindset. That’s what we’re here to do, is bounce back from mistakes.”

Bouncing back from mistakes is exactly what Semien appears to be doing right now thanks to the support system in Oakland, and his progress as a defender will be a narrative worth focusing on as the summer rolls along. 

(h/t CSN Bay Area, Baseball Reference)