Tag Archives: Rickie Weeks

The Seattle Mariners stole Rickie Weeks

The Seattle Mariners committed theft when they stole Rickie Weeks from the rest of Major League Baseball. Weeks is worth more than $2 million, and I welcome a discussion with anyone who says otherwise. Even as a platoon player, as he was in 2014 and will likely be this season, Weeks is undervalued at that price. But, I guess Weeks needs to prove his worth; at least that’s what his one-year deal screams.

In the middle of the 2014 season, the Brewers asked Weeks to try the outfield. He refused. But, when looking at the Mariners depth chart, it lists Weeks as an outfielder/infielder. Why the change of heart? What made Weeks willing to make the switch from ground balls to fly balls? For starters, Weeks was of belief (and so am I) that he was a better second baseman than Gennett. He also knows he’s nowhere near Robinson Cano‘s skill level. He wants to play baseball in 2015, and if that means lacing it up in the outfield, so be it. He’ll have the entire spring to hone his outfield expertise, something he didn’t have when the Brewers approached him. Playing positions other than second base will up Weeks’ future value, so there’s really no reason why Weeks would decline the Mariners this time around.

To the dismay of many Brewers fans, Weeks was a better hitter than Scooter Gennett in 2014. The platoon worked wonders for Weeks’ offensive game, as he posted a career-high 127 wRC+ and reached based just under a 36% clip. Against just southpaws, though, his wRC+ shot up to 142 with a weighted on-base average of .381. And while Weeks feasted on left-handed pitchers, he still managed to have success during the rare times in which he saw an at-bat versus a righty.

The Mariners plan to platoon Weeks with Dustin Ackley in left field, with the occasional start at second. This is the best possible situation for Weeks. He needs another solid season of hitting to show his true capabilities. Last season was a good start.

Weeks’ defense is something that continues to plague him. Over the last three seasons, Weeks has a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of -62. That ranks dead last among second basemen who have played at least 2500 innings at second base since 2012. Maybe moving to the grass is exactly what Weeks needs.

I still believe Weeks is more than a platoon player, but MLB teams don’t seem to agree. The Brewers will surely miss Weeks providing Gennett relief from left-handed pitching, and their unwillingness to re-sign him or find another righty second baseman will prove costly in the end. I mean, $2 million for a player like Weeks is like paying $10 for a PlayStation 4; it’s a steal.

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Be wary of Scooter Gennett in 2015

Ever since Scooter Gennett made his major league debut on June 3, 2013, fans in Milwaukee have been enamored with the scrappy second baseman. He made a splash in the bigs almost immediately, boasting a .364 wOBA and 130 wRC+ in his first 69 games. That, plus being paired with the decline of Rickie Weeks, who has always been hated on by Brewers’ fans, made Gennett a quick fan favorite.

But, as expected, Gennett’s statistics took a dip in his first full season. His .320 on-base percentage was eighth on the team (min 100 plate appearances), and he created just four percent more runs than league average. He put up these less than stellar stats while only facing right-handed pitchers, and with Weeks completely out of the picture in 2015 and no clear platoon partner, times could get tougher for the 24 year old.

If the Brewers plan on Gennett being the main man at second, he’ll need to starting hitting southpaws. It’s not that he’s bad when facing left-handed pitchers, it’s that he’s horrifically awful. In his career, he has a .150 OBP, .134 wOBA and -29 wRC+ (yes, it is possible to have a negative wRC+) versus lefties. Those numbers are based on an extremely small sample size, just 78 at-bats, but his minor league splits don’t bode well for him either.

And Gennett is well aware of his battles with left-handed pitchers. Here’s an interesting quote from him in late June of this year:

“I would rather play and maybe struggle against a lefty than not play at all. But if that’s what the team can benefit most from, then I’m happy with it at the same time.”

The Brewers have two options. They can put Gennett out there with no regard to who is on the mound and hope he gets better with time (practice makes perfect, right?), or they can find another Rickie Weeks and put together another successful platoon. In 2014, Milwaukee’s second basemen posted MLB’s fourth-best wOBA and wRC+, and 11th-best WAR. There’s no way Gennett will be able to duplicate those numbers by himself, and thus, is in need of a platoon partner. He knows he’s going to struggle, and if he knows that and the Brewers know that, there’s no reason Gennett should be out there with a lefty on the mound.

I’m not going to release my 2015 projections for at least another month and a half, but I’ll give you a sneak peak of what I expect from Gennett if he gets the call every day.

Name AVG HR wOBA wRC+ OBP ISO K% BB% WAR
Scooter Gennett .268 6 .310 95 .314 .125 17.0% 4.1% 1.4

And here’s what Steamer is projecting from Scooter:

Name AVG HR wOBA wRC+ OBP ISO K% BB% WAR
Scooter Gennett .279 10 .314 96 .316 .119 14.4% 4.9% 1.6

Steamer likes Gennett more than I do, but just barely. We both expect him to be below league average when it comes to creating runs, and most of his 1.6 WAR will come from his defense and not his bat.

Gordon Beckham is someone the Brewers must look at. He was recently non-tendered by the Angels, and has a career .341 wOBA and 118 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers, making him an ideal option to join Gennett at second base. Before being non-tendered, MLB Trade Rumors projected Beckham to earn $5 million in his final round of arbitration. The Brewers may not want to pay that for a platoon guy, but after giving Weeks $11 million in 2014 for essentially the same role, $5 million is pocket change.

Adding a player like Beckham would not only take pressure off Gennett, but it would absolutely make the team better. Gennett’s not ready for a full-time role, and I don’t think the Brewers can afford to take that chance yet, not if they expect to compete in 2015.

Was the Brewers bench as bad as it seemed?

Throughout the entire 2014 season, I was critical of the Milwaukee Brewers bench. Not the actual bench the players sit on, but the players who are classified as bench warmers. Aside from Rickie Weeks and Lyle Overbay, both part-time starters, I felt the team had no real hitters behind the regulars. This was before I ever looked at the statistics. This was merely based on the eye test. But a few days ago I decided to take a closer look and to see if my eye was on point.

The Brewers accumulated 47 pinch hits last season, which was the seventh-most in baseball. The Pittsburgh Pirates led with 61. But while they were among the top 10 in pinch hits, their .222 average was around the middle of the pack. Still, they were five points over the league average of .217.

Here’s a breakdown of who those 47 pinch-hits came from.

  • Rickie Weeks: 14 (.250)
  • Lyle Overbay: 11 (.323)

There were seven players with one.

Take away Weeks and Overbay, and the Brewers hit .180 (22-for-122) when pinch hitting. Without them, there was really no one who an opposing pitcher had to worry about. Khris Davis was 0-for-11 as a pinch hitter, and his outfield partner, Gerardo Parra, was 1-for-8. . Those are extremely small sample sizes, but with pinch hitters, that’s what you have to expect. Based on this, my eye test passed.

Now, instead of judging the Brewers pinch-hitting capabilities on their batting average, let’s look at their wOBA and OBP in order to get a more accurate picture of how they fared. Note: I’m only using the players I listed above.

PH PA PH wOBA PH OBP
Rickie Weeks 67 .319 .373
Lyle Overbay 40 .399 .425
Scooter Gennett 22 .253 .318
Logan Schafer 17 .165 .250
Mark Reynolds 16 .376 .375
Elian Herrera 15 .145 .133
Jeff Bianchi 9 .396 .444
Average .293 .331

Weeks, Overbay and Reynolds were clearly the best bats off the bench for the Brewers. Bianchi could have been one, but an injury derailed his season. Meanwhile, Gennett really struggled off the pine, Schafer was useless and Herrera added absolutely no value. They just didn’t get the job done.

Going back to my eye test, the Brewers performed better than I originally thought. Their on-base percentage and wOBA, which says a heck of a lot more than batting average, was admirable. It probably could have been even better if Roenicke utilized his bench in a more reasonable way. Some of the decisions he made were head-scratchers, but you can say that about any manager.

The scary thing is, the best pinch hitters that Milwaukee had in 2014 will be gone next season, and the worst will most likely remain on the roster unless Doug Melvin is able to scrounge up better hitters. Having Parra on the team for an entire season will definitely help, but if Herrera and Schafer return to the bench, the Brewers might as well have the pitchers hit for themselves.