When the Oakland A’s decided to move Scott Sizemore to second base, the team opened up the possibility of a very interesting battle for the starting spot at the position.
Following the trade of Cliff Pennington, Jemile Weeks initially seemed to have a clear path to earn the everyday job at second. In 2011, Weeks put together an impressive rookie season that showcased the sort of talents he could bring to the Oakland organization.
In 96 starts at second base that year, Weeks hit .303 and stole 22 bases. Despite his small stature – he is officially listed as standing 5′ 9″ and weighing 160 pounds – Weeks seemed poised to become one of the more important hitters in the A’s lineup.
Sadly, whatever magic Weeks captured during his rookie campaign deserted him during an extremely difficult sophomore slump. In 2012, Weeks hit only .221. Although his playing time increased quite a bit, he stole fewer bases and failed to drive in as many runners.
Weeks struggled so much that in August, Oakland optioned him to Triple-A, making Pennington the starting second baseman. Though Weeks did return during the period of expanded rosters, he never regained his starting job.
For a player who displayed so much talent as rookie, it was a rapid fall from the good graces of the organization.
Nonetheless, Weeks still possesses the same potential that he showed as a rookie, and for that reason Pennington’s departure was not a crushing blow. If anything, it would give a young hitter with a lot of talent the new opportunity he needed.
However, just when it seemed that Weeks would get a chance to start fresh in his third year, the A’s announced that Scott Sizemore would move back to second base. Although Sizemore was supposed to be the Oakland’s starting third baseman last season before tearing his ACL, his original position was actually second base. Given that he struggled mightily during his first two years to handle the defensive assignments of the hot corner, it makes sense for Oakland to utilize Sizemore at his natural position.
Whether the A’s ultimately decide to use Weeks or Sizemore at second, they should not expect the same sort of defensive ability that Pennington gave them at that position during the stretch run last season. Either player would likely experience some struggles in the field, and it is tough to say that one of them has an advantage in the defensive category.
From an offensive perspective, things are not clear either. Based upon his rookie season, Weeks clearly has an advantage over Sizemore when it comes to potential. As a rookie reserve in 2010, Sizemore posted an average of .224, a stat which he improved to .245 during his second year. Those numbers are not close to the .303 average that Weeks had during his first season. But Weeks failed to follow up his rookie effort with decent numbers in his second year, so it might be tough to argue that he is a definitively better hitter than Sizemore. Weeks also lacks the power that Sizemore has, which may play a key part in the final decision about the starting role.
The one wildcard in the second base battle is Adam Rosales. Rosales would almost assuredly give the A’s a steadier defensive presence at second, yet any advantage this might give him should be entirely negated by the fact that he is a poor hitter, without the potential of Weeks or the power of Sizemore. Of course, Rosales made the biggest contribution of any of the three at the end of Oakland’s playoff push, and that gives him a significant edge in the experience category.
At this point, Weeks figures to be the frontrunner for the starting second base job, mainly because of his potential. Right on his heels is Sizemore, followed distantly by Rosales. There is even the chance that the A’s acquire yet another second baseman during the offseason, or give a minor leaguer such as Grant Green a chance to switch to second base and compete for the job.
Whatever the case, the A’s have plenty of options at the moment. The trick will be figuring out which one gives them the best chance at winning.