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Blue Jays: The difference this Marcus Semien can make

May 8, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien (10) rounds the bases after hitting a home run as Houston Astros relief pitcher Brooks Raley (left) reacts during the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
May 8, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien (10) rounds the bases after hitting a home run as Houston Astros relief pitcher Brooks Raley (left) reacts during the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jays keep winning their fair share of games despite a ton of injuries, and one of the reasons for that has been the red-hot play from Marcus Semien.

In a lot of ways the one-year, 18 million dollar contract signed by the veteran infielder represented a gamble by both the player and the Blue Jays. For a guy who finished third in AL MVP voting in 2019, it’s hard to believe he signed a one year deal as a free agent, but so far it’s looking like the decision might pay off for the 30 year old, as he’s showing that his offensive struggles in 2020 appear to be a thing of the past.

That’s where the gamble is paying off for the Blue Jays, who were banking on Semien being better than the .223/305/.347 slash line with just seven home runs and 23 RBI he posted last year while still with Oakland, good for just 0.5 bWAR over 53 games. Entering last night’s game against Atlanta he was sporting a .262/.331/.477 line with eight home runs and 19 RBI over just 33 games, good for 1.4 bWAR already. He also kept his hot hitting going to open the series in Atlanta, going 2-5 and providing an important spark at the top of the lineup.

This contribution from Semien has been crucial in helping the Blue Jays weather the injury storm they’ve endured so far. It’s mostly ravaged the pitching staff, but injuries have also kept George Springer out of all but four games so far this year as well, and Alejandro Kirk is now on the 60-day IL. While it’s never easy to replace a 3-time All-Star at the top of the order like Springer, lately Semien has been filling the role as well as you could possibly ask. After picking up two hits on Tuesday night he’s now riding a 10 game hitting streak, going 16-40 (.400) over that stretch.

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It’s obviously a huge benefit for Charlie Montoyo to be able to use that hot bat to set the table for the rest of the order right now, but I can’t help but dream on what this lineup could look like once Springer can return. I imagine that Montoyo will do a lot more riding of the hot hand if everyone can get healthy at once, because right now it would be tough to sort everyone out. That said, in an ideal world I’d love to see Semien hitting sixth, and have the order look something like this:

1- Springer (CF)
2- Bichette (SS)
3- Vlad Jr. (1B)
4- Hernandez (DH)
5- Grichuk (RF)
6- Semien (2B)
7- Gurriel Jr. (LF)
8- Jansen (C)
9- Biggio (3B)

What I love about this look is just the sheer length and relentless attack that the Blue Jays will be able to employ, and Semien providing a premium bat two thirds of the way through the lineup could be a ridiculous luxury. It’s entirely possible that he overtakes Grichuk at some point too, or perhaps Biggio and occasionally Rowdy Tellez hit in the middle somewhere to break up all the right-handed bats, but regardless I love the idea of getting Semien’s production from the lower half.

Remember, this is a guy who posted 33 home runs, 43 doubles, and 92 RBI with the A’s in 2019, and he’s on a similar pace in his first season with the Blue Jays. Just 34 games through the season, we haven’t even reached the quarter-pole of the 2021 campaign, and even after a slow start to the year he’s now on track to best those career highs. Obviously a lot can change over the course of the next 128 games, but so far the Blue Jays are getting an excellent return on their short term investment.

Next. Projected starting pitchers have experience in the batter's box. dark

It’s fair to think that guys like Springer, Guerrero Jr., Bichette, and Hyun Jin Ryu are the key figures of this team, but if Semien can meet or beat what that group brings to the table, the Blue Jays might be borderline unstoppable on offence.

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