The Blue Jays grabbed the headlines during the offseason for their interest in seemingly all available free agents. It took until the end of January, but the club rewarded the patience of the fan base by landing the first center-back. George springer on a six-year warranty, $ 150 million. Various injuries have mostly kept Springer off the pitch so far, but the Jays are getting a ton of production from acquiring their other key player: Marcus seeds.

Semien was one of the most difficult free agents to assess last winter. He was a solid regular from 2015 to 2018, consistently combining league average offense with solid shortstop defense and durability. The 2019 season brought an offensive breakout, with Semien unexpectedly hitting .285 / .369 / .522 with 33 home runs, a career-high. He did not follow through on this incredible year in the shortened 2020 season, however. Semien got off to a terrible start, and although he finished the year on a hot streak, his .223 / .305 / .374 overall line was closer to his 2015-18 hitting average than his fantastic numbers. of the previous year.

With some uncertainty as to his true level of attacking talent and with teams cutting free agent spending in the wake of the shortened season, Semien opted to strike a deal with the Jays. He signed a one-year $ 18 million guarantee with Toronto just days after the club added Springer, agreeing to move to second base in deference to Bo Bichette In the process. At first it seems like a great decision for the player and the team.

Semien got off to a better career start at plate in 2021. The 30-year-old reached .288 / .355 / .545 in his first 220 appearances at plate. He’s completely regained his power run of 2019, posting a personal best ISO 0.258 (slugging minus batting average), while his 13 home runs are tied. sixth in MLB.

Unsurprisingly, a good chunk of that output seems to be the result of him simply hitting the ball harder in a more consistent manner. Semien is accumulating 8.5% of his batted balls this year, according to Statcast, a better-than-average rating than he has ever matched in the aforementioned 2019 season. His average exit speed is 90.5 mph, his career best, an improvement of over 4 mph from his figure last season. He also had more traction oriented on his flying balls. The improved thump is no coincidence, as the flies drawn give the most power-friendly results for a batter. (The league is hit 1,474 on those bullets struck this year.)

It’s still unclear if Semien can support something like this level of production year round. The increase in power has been accompanied by an increase in strikeouts to 26.4%, and his contact rate is down more than five percentage points from this 2019 campaign. worth considering the family environment of the Jays. The team spent the first two months of the season at their spring training complex in Dunedin, Fla., Which, as’s Mike Petriello recently pointed out (Twitter link), played very friendly to the hitters. With the Jays moving to Buffalo (and possibly Toronto) over the next couple of months, Semien’s ability to keep hitting for that kind of power is worth watching.

The Blue Jays have already gotten a lot of return on their investment in Semien, but there is a lot at stake for both in the near future. At 25-24, Toronto will need to play better to stay in the AL’s playoff image. Semien, as an impending free agent, would be a logical business candidate if the Jays fall out of the race. (A mid-season deal would eliminate the possibility for a team to make a qualifying offer, which would only improve Semien’s market value.) The upcoming free agent shortstop class has attracted a lot of ‘attention, with Corey seager, Trevor’s story, Javier Baez and Carlos correa everything arrives on the market. Semien is older than those four, but he’s outperforming them all so far, with the added benefit of proving he can move up to second base if needed without a problem. In the process, he’s gearing up for another fascinating journey into the open market.