ARLINGTON — Marcus Semien, for all intents and purposes, is the captain of the Texas Rangers. No official patch or designation, but he’s the guy.
He’s not their most talented hitter — that’s Corey Seager — and he’s not the emotional backbone of the club — that’s Adolis García. But he is the man that others follow every day. He’s the guy who posts every day, plays all 162 games and all 12 postseason games and whatever else leads up to the World Series, and who drives the work ethic in the clubhouse.
“He’s a pillar of this organization,” Seager said of Semien on Thursday at Globe Life Field. “This is what we want to do in our business. He does it every day, works hard. He doesn’t need to be a vocal leader. Just by watching, you can learn from him and know everything that you should know about him.”
Semien is known for his consistent routine. Not only does he try to play in all 162 games each year — a feat he’s accomplished three times now — but he goes to the ballpark and does the same thing every day, from hitting the cage to getting groundballs to hit the field.
It’s something that hurts the rest of the team. Utility man Josh H. Smith, who worked with Semien in the offseason, pointed to him as someone who encouraged him to work harder every day to achieve what he wanted.
“He is everything [to this organization] honestly,” Smith said. “Every day, the same guy shows up and moves his butt off. Literally from last season until now, he’s been doing the same thing every day. I always get mad at him that if he ever gets hurt, I jump on it, but he never gets hurt. He is a stud.”
Outfielder Robbie Grossman, who was Semien’s teammate from 2019-20 in Oakland, said the second baseman has always been that kind of guy. He works hard, he’s a competitor, and he’s a guy who wants to lead an organization to the World Series.
Semien was one step, and four games, away from leading the Rangers to a championship.
“This is someone you idolize, you look up to,” Grossman said. “He does a lot of things and he’s very good at it. He is a big reason why I came here. He is a big reason why the team is there this year. … He brings accountability. He is a hard worker and his work ethic is one of the best I know. If you show up in the field, it will spoil everything. The bar is very high.”
On the field, Semien is the same, especially as he continues to play every day at the top of the lineup.
“[He brings] strength and consistency,” said offensive coordinator Donnie Ecker. “Every day you know he’s there. There is only one element of grit. I think what Semien means is a consistent work ethic. It’s not showy. This is very much like a low heart rate. It’s quiet.
“But you know every moment he’s out. There’s nothing about him that’s going to be over the top. He’s not afraid of anybody. For someone who’s responsible for the offense, I’m better at my job because Marcus Semien takes at-bats.
The leadoff man wasn’t exactly hitting on all cylinders in the American League Championship Series against the Astros. Their pticers planned him perfectly, and it worked.
Semien slashed .276/.348/.478 in the regular season, but he hit .192 with a .507 OPS in the postseason. He went 3-for-11 with three walks in the last two games against the Astros, and he seems to have come out of a slump, adjusting to how pitchers attack him.
Every day is a new challenge, said Semien. He was slow to make those adjustments, but when he did, he looked like the leadoff hitter Texas had all season.
“I think he just got some pitches that were too good for him,” Ecker said. “He knows. He wasn’t surprised how they joined him. He doesn’t need me. He knows how to heal her. He has been doing this for a long time. Houston did a great job of keeping him away and it was a tough fight at times.
Semien alone won’t make or break the Rangers’ chances at a World Series championship. But there’s no doubt that Texas is a better ballclub when he’s feeling good, and driving the ball to all fields.
When the bottom of the first inning of the World Series rolls around on Friday night, there’s no one the Rangers want to lead off more than him.
“He’s a great ballplayer,” Grossman said. “He cares so much. I am very happy for him, because I know how much work he has done. He’s easy to root for and he’s a fun guy to watch play baseball.