It seems as if the Brewers have had the most steady yet unsteady run at second base in recent memory. For years, they have looked to Rickie Weeks to be the answer for them, and when healthy he has been just that. Unfortunately, that health has opened the door for a variety of challengers to come calling over the last several years. Now at 31, he faces his stiffest competition yet in youngster Scooter Gennett. What Milwaukee sees over the course of the spring will help determine who is the mainstay in the lineup come April.
As others have pointed out, it was pretty telling when during the off-season the Brewers would not out and out say that Weeks was the starter and Gennett would ride the bench. They have made sure to keep a tight fence around any decisions that may have been made and seem determined to allow everything to play out over the course of February and March. It will come down to how Weeks starts the spring and begins the season. We saw this unfold in 2013 to the point a platoon was put in place between the two infielders.
For Weeks, it starts and ends with the fact that he has not played more than 120 games in three of the last five seasons. While the ankle and hamstring injuries were flukes, the risk here is great enough that fantasy owners need to be wary even if he wins the job outright. The blend of power to go with his run scoring ability and moderate speed make him a threat in three of the five standard categories. We know he has the power and has shown he can put up home run numbers in the mid-twenties. The steals may not be as plentiful as they were in 2007, but being in the mid-teens will do just fine. The concern would be how his average has dropped every year since 2009 to a low of .208 last season. While a correction based off the .268 BABIP is likely in order, he will never be a .300 hitter. This is a player that will find himself, on the high side, in the .260 range. Weeks finds ways to get himself on base despite relatively high strikeout rates.
Gennett does not possess the raw power numbers that a fantasy GM (or the Brewers for that matter) would see from Weeks. In fact, his overall offense is a decided two steps below the veteran he is attempting to replace. Gennett may steal bases in the low double-digits, but his spot in the lineup is not going to beget many run scoring opportunities. Also, his inability to walk in the minors and during his 230 major league plate appearances last season will have to be addressed. What he brings to the table is stability on defense and the promise of the future. The right circumstances could allow him to score as many as 80 runs even if he were to drive in less than 55. It will be a hard sell for fantasy to view him as a viable option in any format with ISO numbers in the minors that never amounted to double-digit home runs.
So what is a fantasy GM to do? First and foremost, they need to hope that Weeks breaks camp with the job. While second base is decidedly deeper than it has been in years past, Weeks could be available later given the health concerns and provide a solid backup option or middle infield eligible starter that would not otherwise be available. Should a platoon be used or Gennett come away as the starter, this position largely needs to be written off in Milwaukee for fantasy purposes except in deeper NL-only leagues. Even in a platoon spot in this format Weeks would still have the edge.