By David Heck, Special to CBS Local Sports
CBS Local Sports will be profiling one young player from each Major League Baseball team every day for the next 30 days as part of our “30 Players 30 Days” spring training feature.
Jemile Weeks, Second Baseman, Oakland Athletics
2011 season: 97 G, 406 AB, .303 AVG, 50 R, 2 HR, 22 SB, .761 OPS
Last year, the A’s had only three players post an OPS above the league average of .720: Josh Willingham, Scott Sizemore and Weeks. Willingham signed with the Twins and Sizemore sustained a season-ending injury early in Spring Training, leaving Weeks as arguably the team’s best returning offensive contributor. That’s not what one would normally expect out of a team’s leadoff hitter and second baseman.
The brother of Brewers All-Star Rickie Weeks, Jemile was first-round pick by the A’s in 2008 but does not possess the same bat as his sibling. He has not hit more than nine home runs in a professional season, and playing in the cavernous Coliseum in Oakland won’t help his cause in that regard. The spacious stadium does aid him in other ways, though, because it allows him to use his speed to churn out extra-base hits. Despite not being called up until June last year, Weeks led the squad with eight triples and ranked just two doubles behind team leader Hideki Matsui with 26. Unlike many who play in Oakland, Weeks’ offensive numbers were actually significantly better at home (.794 OPS) than they were on the road (.727).
Weeks also used his speed to steal an impressive 22 bases in that time, but he’ll have to work more on picking his spots in the future. He was caught stealing on 11 occasions last year, giving him just a 67 percent success rate. In order to provide value from steals, players need to make it across at least 75 percent of the time. Weeks also could stand to take more walks, a particularly important attribute in a speedy leadoff hitter, and he needs to continue to work on his defense, which was below average last season.
Overall, Weeks is far from a perfect player, but he’s clearly a talented athlete who’s capable of making an impact at the Major League level. At 25 years old, there’s still time for him to work out the kinks in his game, though he’ll most likely end up as a solid regular. There’s no shame in that – on most teams, Weeks would be a welcome role player who could provide a spark at the top of the lineup. And on the A’s this year, he might be one of the only sparks anywhere in the lineup.
Next up on March 16: Seattle Mariners