If Weeks can't turn his career around, he will be left behind on a team that needs to continue improving (Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE)

What Is the Verdict on Rickie Weeks?


 

Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks has been covered over the course of his nine seasons in the Major Leagues equally for what he has and has not done.

For many people in Milwaukee and baseball fans outside of the state lines, he has become a favorite member of the team. He was part of that crew of young players – Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and in some respects Corey Hart – that was supposed to grow with the team and turn it into a contender.

The Brewers did, in fact, turn into that contender – believe it or not the team is actually in the Wild Card race this season – but there’s simply no way you can attribute any large portion of that to Rickie Weeks.

Over the course of his career, Rickie Weeks has had potential somewhere between ‘up the wazoo’ and ‘coming out of his ears,’ but is it just wishful thinking to assume it’s ever going to materialize?

Short answer: yes.

Rickie Weeks is often mentioned as a 'star' on the Milwaukee Brewers. The numbers don't seem to back that up. (Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE)

In fact, I’m willing to go so far as to say that the contract Rickie Weeks is currently living out might be one of the most disappointing decisions the team has made in recent memory – up to and including the deals that brought Eric Gagne and Jeff Suppan to Milwaukee. The numbers ought to back this up.

Rickie’s career as a whole is barely mentioned – more often than not the 2009 and 2010 seasons are brought up as evidence that he is, as Sports Illustrated and Yahoo! Sports once reported, one of the most under-rated players at his position. Rickie Weeks’s career batting average is .252.

In his most productive years – the aforementioned period of 2009-2011 – Rickie hit .272, .269, and .269 respectively. They were good years, yes, but really only good years for him. They weren’t the best numbers in the National League in those years – or even the best numbers at his position. Except for his home run numbers in 2010, when he knocked 29 balls out of the park, he barely grazed the top ten of all second basemen in offensive categories amongst other second basemen. So the argument that many have used – including myself – in defense of Rickie that the talent level at second base is not as high as it used to be is not only wrong, it actually works against his case.

Weeks only reached those numbers one other time in his career, in 2006. Perhaps it’s time to accept that those seasons were the exceptions to the rule. He will make $10 million this year for stats that are barely above the average player who could potentially replace him. And that’s just on offense.

If you’re looking to see what statistics Rickie Weeks has led the National League in over the course of

his career, you need to see the column marked ‘Errors.’ At 122 botched plays, no one has been more effective at not being effective than Weeks at second base. He is not only the leader amongst all active second basemen right now, but has also led the league in errors five times in his career including most of 2012. He has also consistently performed under the league average in fielding percentage, despite being the 23rd ranked active player at his position with a lifetime average of .9689. That, by the way, is not as good as it appears on the surface when you consider that there are 30 Major League teams and his major league service is comparable to nearly everyone above him on the list.

So, if we are willing to assume that a second baseman’s defensive ability is more important than his offensive output, we must again assume that Rickie Weeks falls below the level of expectation for a second baseman on this team.

Now, the real question is what to do with Rickie now that we find ourselves holding onto an enormous contract for a roughly average player. In my opinion, you can’t lose by being rid of him. Even if the Brewers did have to eat the bulk of his contract, which runs through 2014 with an option for ’15 – the team would still be potentially just as well off with a generic replacement, at least in the short term. I know nobody is willing to walk away from that kind of money, but the truth is regardless of whether he’s on your team or just simply collecting a check, he’s a liability.

I would rather have a liability off the team, with a cheaper replacement under team control.

So is the verdict still out on Rickie Weeks? If you are willing to take yourself away from the sentimental value of Weeks, there’s barely a case to be made in his defense.

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  • http://brewtalk.weebly.com/ Ike

    How funny that you don’t even mention his career .352 OBP. As a lead-off hitter throughout his career, Weeks was supposed to get ON BASE as much as possible and SCORE RUNS. In 2011, he was leading all NL players in runs scored up until his injury…something else I see you didn’t mention.

    The main knock on Weeks is his injury history and that alone is reason why I don’t like his current deal at 10MM+ a year. However, I also notice you don’t even mention his injury history and how they have sapped him of his hitting and running abilities throughout his career. How many major league hitters do you think would be playing at the top of their potential while injured year in and year out. In fact, his 2010 and 2011 season (up until his ankle injury) showed exactly the kind of player he is when he is healthy and playing at his abilities; a dominant force in the lineup.

    As for his defense; it’s obvious that he isn’t ever going to be a Brandon Phillips. However, as you site his career .969 fielding %; I notice you also didn’t point out the fact that his first two years in the majors would pull that career % down, since he only had .951 & .952 F% his first two years and has had at least a .969% in each year since (min. 100 games). And that’s including an injury free season in 2010 where he posted a .980% over 159 games. Obviously not stellar numbers, but he’s not in the majors for his glove…

    And please show me another 2B that we have that will bat .260/.350/20-30 homers, play a fearless 2B, be tough as nails, be a leader on a young team, etc.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Colin.Bennett13 Colin Bennett

      First of all, thank you for reading and responding.

      You’re right – I didn’t mention his injury history at all. Mainly because I think the fact that he has been injured for so much of his career is, in fact, MORE indicative of the fact that he should not be on this roster. We can spend forever talking about how great Rickie MIGHT be were it not for the injuries. But, whether it was his fault or not the man can not stay healthy and that is a serious issue.

      In fact, he has been healthy all this year and his numbers are the worst they have ever been, so I don’t necessarily buy into the fact that injuries are to blame. And even if they are, what difference does it make? He’s not any more effective in rehab than he is on the field.

      To address the runs scored point that you bring you up – yes, that is an indisbutable fact that he scored plenty of runs up until his injury. First and foremost, the argument doesn’t hold as much water because he couldn’t stay healthy. Also, there’s the fact that while getting on base is important, scoring runs is as much attributed to him as it is the teammates behind him – maybe more so. He had to get on base, yes, but if Braun and Fielder were not behind him how many runs does he score? Surely he didn’t steal home every time – even though he is quite efficient there as well.

      Finally, I can’t show you another 2B who does what Rickie does in the majors because we haven’t given anyone else a legitimate shot. Scooter’s career line in the majors: .300/.339/.416. Farris’s line in the minors: .289/.331/.381. Farris’s line in Spring Training: .295/.348/.410. Why not give these guys a real shot at the job that Rickie obviously can’t stay healthy enough for?

      I hope you don’t think I’m being antagonistic or rude, I’m just saying that in my opinion Rickie is not doing the job we are paying him a lot of money to do.

      Thanks again for starting the discussion

      • http://brewtalk.weebly.com/ Ike

        I’m not so sure he was healthy this whole year though. There was talk that his ankle injury has lingered into this year as well, but Weeks is too stubborn/proud to make any excuses for his performance. Of course, the main problem was him chasing bad pitches/watching good pitches and his mental approach at the plate, but who can say if the injury wasn’t affecting his batting stance (weak foundation, bad push-off, etc).

        Obviously, the injury history is cause for concern and I definitely don’t think he should be making 10 mil+; but he was paid for his potential and his ability, when he is healthy. He has shown what he can do in 2010/early 2011/late 2012, and he has been in the middle of some of the biggest offensive juggernauts we’ve had in years.

        A lot of people have been calling for Gennett to be called up and start, but looking at his numbers in the minors, I highly doubt he is the answer for a few more years. He doesn’t take enough walks to get anywhere near Weeks’ OBP, not nearly as much power, a SB% of 65% or so, and defense similar to Weeks (.965 F%). Farris is along the same lines, but with better defense and speed.

        They are good depth to have behind Weeks in the (probable) event of his next injury, but I don’t think either of them should be starting over Weeks next year. Now, if it was a case of clearing money to sign someone like Greinke, then I’d be all over it. I’d like the Brewers to dangle him out there just to show the anti-Weeks people, such as yourself, just how much people would jump at the chance to add someone like Weeks to their team; .350 OBP with 20-30 homers for only 10MM is a steal if he can stay healthy (just look at Dan Uggla’s current contract).

      • Tim

        Rickie was a top 5 2B when healthy from 2008-2011. His WAR/600 PAs was better than everyone not named Dustin Pedroia.

        Your approach to player evaluation is straight out of 80′s.

  • RLV

    This is a poorly researched article. A .780 OPS is well above average for a 2B. (Weeks career .251/.351/.428/.779) The league average 2B has hit .270/.332/.404/.736 over Weeks’ career.

    From 2007-2011, there have only been 7 players to have an .800 OPS over that span. (Min 2000 PA)

    Utley .290/.386/.503/.889 137 wRC+
    Cano .304/.349/.498/.847 120 wRC+
    Pedroia .309/.377/.469/.846 125 wRC+
    Kinsler .273/.357/.471/.828 122 wRC+
    Uggla .253/.344/.482/.826 117 wRC+
    Weeks .255/.357/.448/.805 120 wRC+
    Zobrist .260/.355/.446/.801 122 wRC+

    Even in what’s clearly a down season for Weeks, he’s still an above average offensive 2B.

    Weeks (2012) .229/.333/.392/.725
    MLB avg 2B .257/.317/.382/.699

    Weeks hasn’t been a great defensive 2B over his career, but he’s not a liability out there. He struggled his first 2 seasons and was improving until the ankle injury last season.

    2005 -13.0 UZR
    2006 -10.3 UZR
    2007 -2.3 UZR
    2008 -3.0 UZR
    2009 3.0 UZR
    2010 1.8 UZR
    2011 1.6 UZR (was at about 4 or 5 before injury)
    2012 -17.4 UZR (has said ankle wasn’t/isn’t 100%)

    We won’t know if his ankle will ever let him get back to a league average defender that he was from 2007-2011.

    As for Farris and Gennett, those guys don’t have anywhere the upside offensively that Week’s can provide. Farris flat out can’t hit while Gennett’s numbers have dropped each level he moves up.

    Farris (3 seasons in AAA) .277/.321/.369/.690

    Gennett (A) .309/.354/.463/.817
    Gennett (A+) .300/.334/.406/.740
    Gennett (AA) .293/.330/.385/.714

    In conclusion, Rickie has been a well above average offensive 2B in his career (top 10 from 2007-2011) and clearly isn’t a liability on any team despite questions about his defense going forward.

  • brad

    you are a boob who should never be allowed to write another thing about baseball ever again

  • brad

    have you ever watched baseball before? this is a serious question.

  • brad

    colin – you are not very good at writing about baseball. you should become a mechanic.

    -love, your mom.