Fantasy Baseball: What to do about one of the most disappointing stars thus far
Perhaps no player has been more disappointing for fantasy managers than Marcus Semien. The Texas Rangers infielder was absolutely incredible with the Blue Jays last season, producing 45 homers and 15 steals. He won a Silver Slugger award, All-MLB first-team honors and was third in AL MVP voting. Sure, there were some reasons for pause after Semien relocated to Texas over the winter, but to most managers, he still seemed like a sure-fire star who would get plenty of plate appearances and counting stats.
Suffice it to say, things haven’t gone as planned for those who invested a top-40 pick in Semien. The 31-year-old has the fifth-worst OPS of any qualified player. Through 22 games played, he is still looking for his first home run. Semien has gone hitless in five of his past six contests and has the ninth-lowest batting average (.149) in baseball. He is the only player with a bottom-10 average who was a top-100 fantasy pick.
I could continue to document Semien’s struggles, but you get the point by now. The two questions for fantasy managers: Why is this happening and where will things go from here?
What is going on with Marcus Semien?
To answer the first question, Semien’s struggles are almost entirely related to poor contact. His strikeout and walk rates are similar to his 2021 and overall career marks. But Semien’s average exit velocity (84.4 mph) is among the worst in baseball and much lower than his 89.7 mph mark from his stellar 2021 season. His barrel rate (4.3 percent) is eerily similar to the 5.0 percent mark that he logged in a disappointing 2020 campaign. And according to Statcast, Semien’s .174 xBA is not much higher than his lowly .149 average.
I’d like to also take a detour here to offer the perspective that Semien ... may not be a star player.
Sure, he was excellent last season, but the second baseman has just two seasons with an OPS above .735 in his 10-year career. He has also batted over .265 just once. There is a real chance that Semien will be remembered as someone who was overvalued in 2022 drafts and is yet another cautionary tale to be careful of veterans who are coming off a major performance uptick.
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The obvious path for Semien to get back on track involves making better contact, but that is easier said than done. And as part of a shallow Rangers lineup that currently sports a .632 OPS, the infielder isn’t going to fluke his way into undeserved totals in runs and RBIs. Semien’s bat could come around at any time, but there is no reason to expect that to happen overnight.
I would not buy low on Semien unless the discount was substantial. I’m not seeing many Semien deals on the Yahoo! Trade Market page that make me want to acquire his services.
For those who have Semien rostered, benching him is a reasonable plan. I disagree with analysts who recommend sticking with struggling stars in order to get the stats from an eventual breakout game. I don’t need to absorb several more 0-for-4 nights just to chase Semien’s first homer of 2022.
However, I wouldn’t go as far as dropping Semien in any leagues. Even in the shallowest formats, his upside is simply too great, especially in a landscape where many hitters are off to disappointing starts.