(*) FACTS/ FLUKES: Weeks, Brown, Bell, Lee, Garza

More to come for Weeks? ... Rickie Weeks (2B, MIL) delivered his third straight year of 20-plus HRs and his best stolen base total since 2008. The bad news: His average fell to a career low thanks to an abysmal first half.

Period    AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%  h%    G/L/F    PX  hr/f   Spd  SBO  HR/SB
======   ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ==  ========  ===  ====   ===  ===  =====
2010     651  .269  .257   10   72  33  49/15/36  136   17%   113   8%  29/11
2011     453  .269  .282   10   76  31  48/17/35  143   16%    99   9%  20/ 9
2012     588  .230  .236   11   71  29  45/17/38  120   13%   111  12%  21/16
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
'12-1H   268  .183  .200   14   65  26  47/15/38   98    9%   105   8%   6/6
'12-2H   320  .269  .266    9   77  31  44/18/38  137   16%   107  16%  15/10

Weeks' skills remain intact and offer a glimpse of upside:

  • Weeks' terrible first half was a combination of a poor ct% and bad luck,.
  • His BPIs rebounded in the second half and his h% and hr/f returned to normal levels.
  • Weeks got the green light to run more as the season wore on.

Weeks has posted impressive power in his career and topped 20 SBs once, but he's never put the speed and power together in the same season. If he can maintain the pace from the second half last year, we should see the batting average rebound to a more normal level and if the pieces fall into place. If so, he could deliver his first 20/20 season.

 

Another chance for Brown ... Domonic Brown (OF, PHI)  got another audition in Philadelphia last summer after a trade opened the door to playing time. But he produced a disappointing .235-5-26 line in 187 major league at-bats. He's showing up differently with a barrage of spring HRs already. Can he bring this bat to Citizens Bank Park next month?

Year    AB    BA  bb%  ct%   Eye    G/L/F    PX  hr/f  Spd  SBO   xBA
=====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ====  ========  ===  ====  ===  ===  ====
2010*  405  .279    8   74  0.32  41/22/37  145   13%  107  24%  .274
2011*  322  .238   13   77  0.66  47/18/35   90    9%  109  18%  .242
2012*  407  .244    8   80  0.42  46/21/33   94   10%   86  10%  .256
* Includes MLEs

Brown's skills don't signal the breakout that owners have waited on:

  • He has displayed good patience and his contact rate is slowly improving, but his plate skills remain just average.
  • Brown's speed score is only average and he's been given fewer opportunities to run in Philly.
  • Even playing at Citizens Bank Park (+22% LHB HR), Brown's power has been disappointing—the product of a league average hr/f% and weak FB%.

A former top prospect, Brown is among the post-hype prospects who's causing owners to lose patience. There's hope that he can be the power-speed combination he showed in the minors, but he's shown few signs that a breakout is imminent and this spring's performance represents a small sample size against questionable pitching. His power has been limited by a low FB% and he's not been given a chance to utilize his legs. Brown is just 24, so there's still time to deliver on the promise he's shown as a highly touted prospect. But he'll need to produce quickly as the club has other options.

 

Luck hastens Bell's decline ... Exiled from South Florida after a disastrous season, Heath Bell (RHP, ARI) now finds himself in a less pressurized role in Arizona. The question is, which Bell will show up—the one from 2011 or last year's model?

Year    IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  H%  S%  GB%  hr/9  BPV
====    ==  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ==  ==  ===  ====  ===
2010    70  1.93  3.25  3.6  11.1  3.1  33  83   44   0.1  124
2011    63  2.44  3.74  3.0   7.3  2.4  27  81   43   0.6   71
2012    64  5.09  4.15  4.1   8.3  2.0  35  67   47   0.7   64

Bell's BPIs suggest the wide variance in results the past two seasons were luck-driven:

  • Just as good luck masked a step down in skill in 2011, bad luck amplified his struggles last season.
  • Bell's Dom took a step up; but it was accompanied by a jump in walks.
  • While his ERA doubled last year, there was less than half a run difference in his xERA.

The big drop-off in Bell's skills followed his 2010 season when his strikeout rate fell by half. Make no mistake, Bell's skills weren't closer-worthy last season. But if he can cut back on the walks he could succeed in a setup role with his strong GB% and even get called on for save chances, though teammate David Hernandez (RHP, ARI) displayed far better skills of late.

 

Unlucky Lee chugs along .... Count Cliff Lee (LHP, PHI) as baseball's unluckiest pitcher last season. The veteran lefty managed just six of his 30 starts despite a very solid 3.23 ERA and 1.11 WHIP thanks to poor offensive support from his injury-plagued team.

Year    IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom   Cmd  hr/9  H%/S%    G/L/F   hr/f   BPV
====   ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ====  =====  ========  ====   ===
2010   185  3.18  3.37  0.8  7.8  10.3   0.7  30/70  42/18/40    6%   141 
2011   233  2.40  2.76  1.6  9.2   5.7   0.7  30/80  46/21/32    9%   146  
2012   211  3.16  3.23  1.2  8.8   7.4   1.1  32/77  45/18/37   12%   150  

Lee's skills remain solidly intact:

  • He continued to strike out almost a batter per inning while becoming even stingier with walks.
  • Lee allowed a few more HRs than he did the previous two seasons thanks to an uptick in hr/f.
  • His BPV shows remarkable consistency and reflects an elite pitcher in his prime.

At 34, Lee continues to hum along as one of baseball's most dependable starters. he now has five straight seasons or a sub 3.20 ERA and 200 IP. he also has registered 200-plus Ks each of the past two years. That said, Lee's value was dinged by last season's 6-9 record. Expect his value to rebound. 

 

Garza: Solid, but health a gamble ... Matt Garza (RHP, CHC) barely logged 100 innings in 2012, but pitched admirably for a losing team before injury ended his season. Garza will begin this season on the DL, too. But when he does take the mound, what does he offer?

Year     IP    ERA   xERA   Ctl   Dom   Cmd   hr/9   H%    G/L/F   hr/f   BPV
====    ===   ====   ====   ===   ===   ===   ====   ==  ========  ====   ===
2009    203   3.95   4.07   3.5   8.4   2.4    1.1   28  40/18/43   10%    74
2010    205   3.91   4.46   2.8   6.6   2.4    1.2   28  36/19/45   10%    58
2011    198   3.32   3.24   2.9   9.0   3.1    0.6   32  46/21/33    8%   108
2012    104   3.91   3.54   2.8   8.3   3.0    1.3   28  45/19/33   16%   100

Garza's BPIs show no signs of trouble, except too many balls leaving the yard:

  • He lost a strikeout per game, but retains a solid Cmd level.
  • Garza's hr/f rate doubled, but only 1 of the 15 HRs he allowed was at Wrigley Field.
  • He posted a triple-digit BPV for a second straight year.

Garza will begin the season on the DL with a strained lat muscle and there's been no firm timetable given for his return. The uncertainty around his health will no doubt push down his stock at the draft table. But know that when he does take the field, his skills are solid and at the right price he could be a nice value for owners willing to take the risk.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.