October 3, 2012
The Bay Area Body-Swap
Existence is random. For indisputable proof of this, one need look no further than the 2012 Athletics or Orioles. But one of the basic drives of human nature is to try and make sense of things, to create narrative, to impose order on chaos. Why else would my brain suggest to me that Jemile Weeks and Brandon Crawford have switched bodies?
Maybe it wasn’t a full-on Vice Versa body-swap scenario, but they’ve basically traded stat lines. Or are mirror images of each other. Or something.
Crawford and Weeks were born five days apart (Crawford is older) in 1987. Both were drafted in 2008 after outstanding college careers: Weeks was selected by Oakland in the first round, 12th overall. Crawford looked for all the world like a first-round pick, but was undone by a lackluster junior year and a poor showing in the Cape Cod League; he was still on the board in the fourth round, when San Francisco snapped him up (no. 117 overall).
Both men are middle infielders on playoff-bound Bay Area baseball teams. Both have had one lackluster and one solid big-league season. The germane difference here is that Weeks’ big year was his rookie campaign, whereas Crawford’s came in his sophomore season. But other than that, they’re basically the exact same player! (They’re totally not.)
But both men did have similar paths to the Show. They were both promoted aggressively by their organizations (or “appropriately,” if you prefer, since both were drafted as college juniors) and both players missed significant development time due to injury. And both made their big-league debuts in 2011.
Jemile Weeks burst on the big-league scene in early June that year, started hitting immediately, and never slowed down. He tallied 2.7 WARP in just 97 games while playing an adequate, if inconsistent second base. His .303/.340/.421 slash line was good enough for a .289 True Average (TAv)—sixth best among major-league second basemen, if we set the minimum PA to an arbitrary 200. Watching him in 2011, it was easy to become enamored of his speed (both bat- and foot-), plate discipline, and gap power. His 67 percent stolen-base success rate is alarming, but hey, he’s raw! It wouldn’t be unreasonable to project a little more power, a little more OBP, and improved defense as he matures. I mean, he’s only 24! All very encouraging, if you don’t look at his BABIP.