The Blue Jays took a bit of a gamble when they signed Marcus Semien to a one-year, 18 million dollar deal, but he was worth every penny for many reasons.
Obviously it starts with what the 31 year old was able to produce on the diamond, and the numbers represent the best season of his career, which is saying something for a guy who finished 3rd in AL MVP voting in 2019. Semien ends the season with a slash line of .265/.334/.538 with 45 home runs, 39 doubles, 102 RBI, and 15 stolen bases. You couldn’t ask for much more from the veteran who finished as the team leader in bWAR, and yet, he brought even more value to the table.
On top of his individual performance, Semien made a tremendous impact on one of the brightest young stars in baseball in Bo Bichette. The 23 year old had a breakout performance in 2021 that flew under the radar a bit thanks to the incredible seasons some of his teammates have had, but he’s pretty remarkable, especially when you consider that this is his first full season. Bichette finished with a slash line of .298/.343/.484 with 29 home runs, 30 doubles, 102 RBI, 25 stolen bases (in 26 tries), and 6.0 bWAR. According to that bWAR stat, he was the second best shortstop in the American League this season behind only Carlos Correa, who led all position players with 7.2.
As much as I believe in Bichette’s potential to be an MVP calibre performer, I don’t know that he takes this big of a step in 2021 without his keystone partner, and I’m willing to bet young Bo would agree with that statement.
Asked about what Semien has meant to his career after the Jays were eliminated on Sunday, Bichette even got a little choked up with a pretty simple response of, “everything”.
It’s a testament to Semien’s character and value as a clubhouse leader and teammate, and he proved that in spades to the Blue Jays organization this season. Instead of coming in and trying to take his preferred shortstop job back from a young star, Semien accepted his role as the second baseman, even when there were times that Bichette was really struggling on defence. Other players may have just waited things out with selfish motivation, but not Semien. He was far more interested in team success, and helping his young teammate become the best version of himself that he could be, on and off the field.
Semien told reporters after that game that he’s open to a possible return to Toronto, and I’m sure the organization feels pretty similar to the fan base in their desire to have him back again next season. However, if he does end up signing a massive free agent contract to join another team, his impact will be felt in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse for years to come.
I’m sure he left an impression on others as well, but Bo Bichette is a different and better player than he was before the Blue Jays signed Marcus Semien. When you reflect on all that Semien brought to the table during a season that will see him earn plenty of MVP votes, it’s pretty special to consider that his greatest impact may have been accomplished without a bat or a glove.