Anyway You Pronounce It, Jemile Weeks Is A Rising Star
In a season most A’s fans are understandingly willing to forget, my suggestion to you is this: don’t. While he did it in a backdrop of sub-.500 baseball, a true rising star was born in the summer of 2011. His name was Jemile Weeks, and he took flight almost from the time he first slipped on those distinctive white shoes.
And it was an improbable flight at that. Starting off, he had the unenviable task of replacing a long-time fan favorite in Mark Ellis at second base. Most baseball observers questioned whether he was ready for “The Show,” based on an injury-plagued minor league career that had sidelined him for large chunks of both the 2009 and 2010 seasons. But on June 7, this scrawny little kid (5-9, 160) from Orlando, Fla. wandered into Camden Yards in Baltimore and was fitted with jersey No. 19. It’s a jersey that won’t be coming off for a long, long time. Exuding uncommon confidence for a rookie, A’s fans instantly fell in love with the club’s new leadoff hitter with the flamboyant dreadlocks. Not that the rest of the baseball world was taking notice. Opponents’ broadcasters and public address announcers had a difficult time pronouncing his unique first name. Invariably, he was called Juh-MEEL instead of Juh-MILE.
Well, the mispronunciation is ancient history now, as the baseball world clearly does know who Jemile Weeks is. After all, he’s one of the leading candidates for 2011 American League Rookie of the Year. Yesterday, with the help of my trusty PR assistant Adam Loberstein, I prepared a one-page fact sheet on “The Case for Jemile Weeks” and emailed it to our national media who vote on post-season honors. Some of the statistics and rankings we came across were rather staggering. Among the better, more compelling ones:
- If he had enough at-bats to qualify, Weeks’ .305 batting average would be tied for seventh best in the American League.
- If he had enough at-bats to qualify, Weeks’ .400 average with runners in scoring position would lead the Major Leagues.
- Weeks is the only AL rookie to lead his team in batting average with his .305 figure, the second highest by a rookie in Oakland history (Mitchell Page, .307 in 1977).
- Weeks is ranked in the Top 10 among AL rookies in 12 statistical categories. Only KC’s Eric Hosmer appears in more (14).
- Weeks became the first player in Oakland history with 100 hits and 20 stolen bases in their first 80 games. In fact, no A’s player had even reached 100 hits in their first 80 games. If you take Weeks’ numbers and double them for a full season, he would have 200 hits and 40 stolen bases this year.
Yet what may have spoken volumes about the r-e-s-p-e-c-t that Jemile is starting to get in the league occurred Sunday in Anaheim. With two out, runners on second and third, and the score tied 5-5 in the top of the ninth inning, Mike Scioscia chose to intentionally walk Weeks to face the always-dangerous Coco Crisp. Aretha Franklin would have been proud.
As a somewhat late entry, Weeks will not be considered the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award. But I wouldn’t count him out just yet. After all, baseball writers have certainly been kind to previous Oakland candidates. We’ve landed seven Rookie of the Year trophies since 1986—Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Walt Weiss, Ben Grieve, Bobby Crosby, Huston Street and Andrew Bailey. Mark down Monday, November 14 on your calendars. That’s the day we’ll find out who wins this year’s award.