Rangers iron man Marcus Semien is a cut above the rest

ARLINGTON, Texas — Bruce Bochy witnessed Marcus Semien’s slump in late August, which coincided with his team’s struggles. The Rangers had lost nine of their last ten games and fallen into second place. During this period, Semien had a lackluster batting average of .225.

Bochy, the experienced manager, noticed that Semien’s wife was in the final stages of pregnancy while already having three kids. Before the series, Bochy had a meeting with his second baseman. He expressed his concerns, saying, “Maybe we should consider giving you a day off. It seems like we might not be getting the best performance from you right now.”

Semien acknowledged Bochy’s offer and mentioned that he would let him know if he needed a day off. However, they never discussed it again.

As expected, the Rangers played their 170th game of the year, including the regular season and postseason, in ALCS Game 3 against the Astros. And for the 170th time, Bochy confidently assigned Semien as the leadoff hitter and second baseman.

“It’s truly a luxury not having to worry about who will play second base,” Bochy remarked. “In this day and age of load management, it doesn’t happen often.”

Marcus Semien has started every regular season and postseason game for the Texas Rangers this year.
Semien has only missed one regular-season game in the past three seasons.

The concept of load management started with good intentions but has been taken to extremes. Players have been made to believe that playing every day is exhausting, leading to exhaustion when it shouldn’t be the case. The Braves’ success during the regular season can be attributed to their strategy of playing their best players as often as possible. Availability should be considered as the sixth major league tool. If a player is replaced by an inferior player, it affects the team’s overall performance.

The Rangers don’t have to worry about such concerns with Semien. This was a significant factor in GM Chris Young’s decision to sign him for a seven-year, $175 million contract after the 2021 season. Young knew Semien’s strong work ethic would maximize his playing time. He also believed that Semien would serve as a role model for younger players like Josh Jung, Nathan Lowe, and Leody Taveras.

Semien is currently in the second year of his 7-year, $175 million contract with the Rangers.

“His presence sets a standard for our team and establishes expectations,” Young explained. “When young players see a superstar like Semien play fearlessly and consistently, it has a tremendous impact. We’ve already witnessed changes in the mentality, routine, focus, and commitment of several players because of him.”

Semien credited his former White Sox farm director, Buddy Bell, for influencing his mindset. Bell was a heavy-usage third baseman during his playing days. Upon joining the White Sox, Semien admired players like Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez, who prioritized playing every day. Semien also mentioned that the last collective bargaining agreement included more mandated days off, so he feels that’s sufficient.

“I believe that any given day can be special. You don’t have to be at 100% to give your team a chance to win,” Semien stated. “I’ve never been the most talented player who can simply show up and hit a home run. Preparation and playing are crucial to me. I feel like I improve as the season goes on when I play every day.”

This mindset is why Semien declined Bochy’s offer for rest in late August. He believed that slumps are part of the season, and working through them on the field is vital. Semien’s performance improved significantly after that, with an .891 OPS, helping the Rangers secure a playoff berth for the first time since 2016.

Furthermore, his consecutive-game streak extended to 294, second only to Braves’ first baseman Matt Olson’s streak of 458 games. In the past four full seasons, Semien has played 161 games once and 162 games three times. Since 2018, Semien has played a total of 7,517 ²/₃ innings in the field, the most in the major leagues. First baseman Freddie Freeman comes in second with 7,372 innings. Among players who primarily play in the middle of the diamond, Trea Turner is second with 6,928 ¹/₃ innings.

The Rangers can rest easy knowing that they never have to worry about who will replace Semien at second base.

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t have to concern himself with finding a replacement at second base.

“It’s like solving a puzzle every day, and having Semien, who you know will be your leadoff-hitting second baseman every day, is a huge advantage,” said Rangers associate manager Will Venable. “It’s a great way to start our daily process.”


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