Will Rhymes Solid in Debut Season

On July 25th, the Tigers called up a player to whom I immediately paid attention for two reasons: his awesome hair and his awesome name: Will Rhymes. Little did I know that this player would also perform well in his first stint in the Major Leagues. Entering play tonight, Rhymes has a nearly league average .321 wOBA in 34 games and 149 plate appearances as a second baseman.

Rhymes hasn’t shown much in the way of power – only 9 XBH and no home runs – and he isn’t walking much – 6.7% of plate appearances ending in a free pass. However, Rhymes has shown an excellent ability to make contact in the majors, striking out in only 8% of plate appearances, less than half of the league average of 17%. When he has made contact, he’s done well with it too, as he has a .328 BABIP supported by an excellent 23.3% line drive rate.

As a 27 year old with a middling minor league track record, it’s difficult to see Rhymes making any sort of major step forward. His best minor league wOBA in any sort of significantly long stint was .356 in AAA this season before receiving the call up to the Major Leagues, and that was accomplished in a similar way to Rhymes’s MLB line – some walks, very few strikeouts, and good performance on balls in play.

This is the first season in which Rhymes has shown this kind of ability to make contact, and as such, ZiPS expects some regression, but not much – still a very solid 14% strikeout rate. There’s likely some regression coming in terms of BABIP too, but I would also expect that Rhymes could hit one or two home runs before the season ends as well.

It’s difficult to get a beat on Rhymes’s defense in such a short time – UZR has him as slightly below average, whereas DRS has him at +8 and TotalZone has him at +4. The safest assumption is probably to have him as a roughly average second baseman, which means that he should be able to provide some defensive value for the Tigers going forward.

Rhymes’s profile is far form a sure thing to produce at the plate going forward, but right now, he looks like he could become the next Jeff Keppinger. That’s no great shakes, but Keppinger epitomizes the high contact player at the plate and does have two 2+ WAR seasons in the last four years, and that’s despite some poor defense all around the diamond. Rhymes will be an interesting player to watch for the Tigers as they attempt to retool after a relatively disappointing 2010 season.



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Jon E
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Jon E
5 years 8 months ago

I would like to see the Tigers go with a platoon of Rhymes and Scott Sizemore next year and see which player rises to the occasion w/the opportunity. Despite struggling in 135 PAs, I still think Sizemore will be the guy who seizes that job in the long run.

Rhymes has been fun to watch though. He might be a nice utility guy for the Tigers in time. Don’t know if he can play any Shortstop though…

Dan
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Dan
5 years 8 months ago

No way the Tigers enter the 2011 season looking to platoon at second base. You need a consistent double play combination at second and SS. No way you get through platooning at either position. It’s either Rhymes, Sizemore, or someone not currently on the roster.. but not a combination.

Mitch
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Mitch
5 years 8 months ago

In college, Will used the song “Tricky” as his intro music. As in, “it’s tricky to rock a rhyme…”

Glad to see him succeeding. I hope he keeps it up.

Stringer Bell
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Stringer Bell
5 years 8 months ago

He uses Welcome Home now, so he’s gotten more angry.

Dwight S.
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Dwight S.
5 years 8 months ago

I must say I have been pretty impressed with Rhymes thus far, as mentioned he doesn’t have much power at all(there’s been times where off the crack of the bat you think it has a chance to go out only for it to go about 200ft) but he does get out of the batters box quickly and has good speed which allows him to pickup some cheap infield hits. Plus he makes alot of contact too and with Comerica Park’s outfield being as spacious as it is it makes it easier to get bloopers to drop. I also have been impressed with his defense, I was surprised to see UZR rate him so low because he appears to have good range to the naked eye.

But with all this said since I am a Tigers fan I’ve seen my fair share of unheralded rookies make immediate impacts only to eventually fade(Chris Shelton, Brent Clevelan, Clete Thomas, Brennan Boesch among others) so I’m not getting too excited about this one yet.

gnomez
Member
gnomez
5 years 8 months ago

I miss Placido Polanco.

Vince
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Vince
5 years 8 months ago

Me too.

RPS
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RPS
5 years 8 months ago

You’ll be happy to not be paying him 6.25 mill in his 37 y/o season.

JCA
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JCA
5 years 8 months ago

Any reason why Rhymes is not stealing bases? Is he being held in check by the coaches? He had a decent record in the minors on steals (22 for 27 this year, 64 for 84 in AA and AAA since 2007).

RPS
Guest
RPS
5 years 8 months ago

Leyland is trying to keep Cabrera from getting IBB’d so much by trying to keep first base occupied whenever possible. Why would anyone want more guys on base, anyway?

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