Tagged: Rickie Weeks

Second to None: The Best Second Baseman, the Surprise, the Bust, and the Sleeper

Second to None!

The Best: Rickie Weeks, Brewers

After breaking out last season with 29 home runs, 112 runs, and 11 steals many baseball fans expected Rickie Weeks to take a small step back this season.  I’m not really sure why expectations were so low. 

The second overall pick of the 2003 draft is finally healthy and at 28 years old he should be in his prime.  Plus, he is surrounded by sluggers such as Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Corey Hart, all who guarantee that Weeks will rack up plenty of runs.  Weeks has managed to cut down on his strikeouts this season, while improving his batting average to .286.   Considering the drastic difference in expectations, Weeks gets the edge as the best second baseman over Yankees star Robinson Cano. 


The Surprise: Danny Espinosa, Nationals

Coming into the season, Danny Espinosa had been called the poor man’s version of Dan Uggla.  While the expectations have been met with Espinosa blasting 15 home runs despite just a .238 average, it turns out that Espinosa has actually outperformed Uggla. 

At 24 years old, Espinosa is a building block for the Nationals.  The 2008 third round pick out of Long Beach State has also impressed with a keen ability to draw walks.  Plus, something that he offers that Uggla never has is his speed on the base paths.  Pretty soon, baseball fans will have to compare Espinosa to Rangers star second baseman Ian Kinsler. 

The Bust: Dan Uggla, Braves

After belting 33 home runs with 105 RBI and a .287 last season, Dan Uggla was sought by several teams and ended up joining his long-time rival Atlanta Braves.  As it turns out, Uggla is not done punishing the Braves.  This time the damage is not a result of his power, but instead an unsuspecting power outage. 

Sure, Uggla does have 12 home runs, which still ranks amongst the top second basemen.  The problem is that his .178 average is more than 100 points off last year’s batting clip, as his home runs make up 22% of his total hits.  There have been no signs of a let-up either, as Uggla hit just .179 in June. 

The 2nd Half Sleeper: Howie Kendrick, Angels

Riding a nine-game hit streak, it looks like Howie Kendrick is on the verge of a bounce back season.  After hitting just .279 last season, his average is up to .305 plus he has shown signs of power and speed.  The good news is that Angels fans can expect even better for the second half of the season. 

Kendrick missed some time in the first half due to a injury that forced him out of the lineup for two weeks and when he did return, Kendrick was hitless in his first ten at bats.  Now that he is healthy, Kendrick should surpass his first half production culminating in what could be his best season so far.

First Half Fantasy All-Stars: Buy, Sell or Hold?

by Eno Sarris //

Fantasy managers should be taking a
good look at their teams and deciding where they have surpluses and
weaknesses. If you’ve got the Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools, it’s a great time to look at the rest-of-season projections for your team, and do some trade analyzing. 

in the first half, you’re looking for players who are not only great
producers, but also those who deliver the best return on investment.

A fantasy All-Star brings in the question of how much was spent on the player. Yes, it’s nice that Evan Longoria is playing well, but he cost first-round prices. Meanwhile, how many people got those 20+ home runs from Jose Bautista
for virtually free? Those managers are probably rolling in power
numbers, and benefiting quite nicely from their fantasy All-Star.

Use these fantasy All-Stars as your template for what great ROI looks like.

C Miguel Olivo
has a .319 batting average this year and a .249 career average. He’s
given his owners a great batting average and 12 homers at a tough
position to fill. He’s definitely a fantasy All-Star. But the gravy
train will most likely not continue. Olivo sports a .391 batting
average on balls in play for the year, which would be the
second-highest figure in the game if he qualified for the batting
title. It’s also almost 100 points above his career number and the
major league average. Yes, it’s nice that he’s walking at a career-high
pace, and that he’s cut his strikeouts down to one of the better rates
of his career. But Olivo’s batting average, and therefore his fantasy
value, will likely come way down. Then you’ve got Rockies backup Chris Iannetta, who has a BABIP (.214) that’s ready to go the other way. This is one All-Star that must be sold, almost at any price.

1B Paul Konerko
home runs and a .301 batting average plays at any position, especially
when they come from the late rounds of a mixed-league draft. Konerko is
a first-half fantasy All-Star, and he’s actually one that might stick.
Don’t assume his higher-than-normal batting average will fall. HIs
BABIP is not at all out of whack with baseball norms (.306), even if
it’s a little higher than his career number (.283). Even if the batting
average comes down a little bit, his power will be useful. His .560
slugging percentage looks a little high (.494 career), but he’s also
hitting flyballs at a career-high rate (46.5% this year, 41.3% career).
To top it off, his home runs per fly ball rate this year (17.6%) is not
at all strange next to his career number (16.6%). Unless you can full
proper value for Konerko, he’s a hold.

2B Rickie Weeks
This could really be Martin Prado, but he was covered recently
– and excellently – by Tommy Rancel in this space. So instead, it’s the
Brewers’ surprising spark plug who gets the award. If one All-Star so
far was a hold, and the other a sell, this one is right in between.
Weeks’ BABIP looks a little high (.335) but just last year he put up
a similar batting average (.272) with a slightly lower BABIP (.313). Of
course, he got hurt last year, and health has always been Weeks’
weakness. If you think he can avoid the injury bug, though, this
breakout looks legitimate. Weeks has already reached a career high in
homers (17) and we’re just past the All-Star break. Even if you tried
to sell, your leaguemates would probably want to pay a reduced price
because of Weeks’ injury history. So you’re best off holding, and
hoping the breakout continues.

For more on other first-half fantasy All-Stars, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy tools.

Rickie Weeks: Post-Hype Sleeper or Bust?

by Eno Sarris

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Post-Hype Sleeper label and some arguments for and against its existence. That led to an in-depth profile of Chris Davis and his hopes for a strong season. Now it’s time to take a look at a second baseman who has seemingly been all hype and disappointing performance for a decade now.

Will this finally be the year for Rickie Weeks? Seven years into his career, he’s still only 27, at an age when many players hit their prime. He’s been injury-prone and his batting average has oscillated between terrible and mediocre. But he’s also tantalized fantasy owners with good power and speed for stretches.

As you can see from the x-axis on the Demand vs. Scarcity chart from the Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Sports Tool below, Weeks is the latest-drafted three-star second baseman this year. Bloomberg Sports’ projections are pretty optimistic, as they predict a .267 average with 20 home runs and 19 steals. Those numbers result in a
B-Rank of 124; fantasy players have been more
WeeksGrab.jpg skeptical, drafting him
much later (183.1 ADP). The sweet spot for drafting him then could be in the 14th or 15th round, in 12- or 10-team mixed leagues.

Still, skepticism remains. Last season actually looked like it might be his breakout year. A bit more than one-quarter of the way into the season, Weeks had hit nine home runs with a .272 batting average. But on May 18th, Weeks learned he had torn the tendon sheath on his wrist and would miss the rest of the season. Wrist injuries can sometimes take a long time to heal; at least Weeks has youth, and time – nearly a full year from his surgery to Opening Day 2010 – on his side.

Because of the small sample size that Weeks created in 2009, we have to take his early-season success with a grain of salt. Let’s instead look at the three years that led up to 2009 and see if there was improvement in some underlying categories for Weeks: power and contact.

Though his power has jumped around a little, there are two reasons to be optimistic. His 2008 Isolated Slugging (slugging percentage minus batting average) of .164 was slightly above-average (the league-average ISO that year was .152). Weeks has shown the ability to put up near-.200 ISOs , though (.198 in 2007); both 2007 and 2008 were more powerful years than the first three of his career. Another reason for donning the rose-colored glasses is the fact that Weeks is hitting more balls in the air with every season. The general trend of his career has taken him from a worm-burner (30.8% flyball percentage in 2005) to more of a flyball hitter (43.5% last year). It wouldn’t take a big leap to make Weeks the cheapest 20-home-run second baseman in the game this year.

The biggest black mark on his career to date (save for his injury-prone nature) has been his struggle to make contact. Again, there’s reason for optimism. Save for last year’s small sample of a blip, Weeks has improved his contact rate every year he’s spent in the major leagues. Getting that rate up from 73.1% in 2005 to 78.1% in 2008 moved him from Adam Dunn territory (72.9% last year) to Kendry Morales‘ neighborhood (78.8% in 2009).

The fact that Weeks has improved his ability to make powerful contact is a real positive, and despite all the injuries, the upside is still there. Considering that he’s going just slightly before decent but unspectacular options like Orlando Hudson (B-Rank: 206) and still has the potential to double Hudson in the power and speed categories, the “Post-Hype Sleeper” label might just apply in this case.

For more information on Rickie Weeks, Orlando Hudson and all of the other second basemen in your drafts this year, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kit.