Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to “Let’s Look at”, a brand new series in which I review a player’s contributions from Opening Day to present, and predict their roles for the remainder of the season. I will post about a new player every Wednesday. The inaugural “Let’s Look at” will feature Rickie Weeks, one of the Brewers most polarizing players in terms of fan opinion.
At the start of the season, the best case scenario surrounding Weeks appeared to be a trade, after he was replaced in 2013 by Scooter Gennett, while slashing .209/.306/.357 for the season, the worst of his career. It seemed unlikely that Weeks wouldn’t bounce back slightly, but many still hoped that a second base-deficient team would relieve the Brewers of some of Weeks’ (mostly financial) burden, while Gennett took over. Obviously no trades were made, however, and Weeks remained with the team.
Later, much to the chagrin of Ron Roenicke and Brewers’ fans alike, Weeks refused to try learning left field amidst an offensive struggle. While some pointed out that Roenicke likely should have kept the discussion between the two them, others felt that Weeks should be cut from the team. Rickie again remained with the team, however, and his bat eventually heated up.
Jump to about 40 percent of the way through the 2014 season, and Weeks has restored his presence as an offensive weapon in the Brewers’ lineup, now as a platoon player and pinch-hitter. Weeks has started in 17 games, 15 against left-handed starters, as part of his straight platoon with Gennett, and is hitting .280/.345/.460 against southpaws.
He has also posted an impressive .393 OBP as a pinch hitter, a role in which many other players struggle and come to dread. Weeks is likewise hitting well against righties (.342), but he owns a lucky .520 BABIP against them, and his stats against lefties are much more likely to be sustained.
Weeks is fully entrenched in his role as of late, as he was very good in May, and Gennett has performed likewise so far early in June. Even when Gennett is red hot, Weeks sees almost every at-bat against lefties, as Gennett struggles mightily in those instances. This (and success as a pinch hitter) assures Weeks at-bats, seemingly enough for him to sustain hot streaks. These factors have caused Weeks to appear in around 70 percent of Brewers’ games to date. His past as an everyday player could also earn him reps against righties, should Gennett struggle.
Weeks, who was earlier viewed as a sure trade piece, now looks very likely to stick with his team, in part due to his stats, but also the Brewers’ record. Potential playoff teams are not known for trading away big league players, and certainly not ones who have crucial roles in the offense. Weeks’ salary may be heavy for a platoon player/PH, but the Crew would likely be forced to eat most of Weeks’ salary in a trade anyway, so his presence is logical.
Should the Brewers fall behind in the NL Central, the team could trade a hot Weeks to a team in need, but the Crew as it stands today is improved by Weeks’ performances. Weeks and Gennett’s combined platoon splits create one very good second baseman, but I will discuss that more next week, when we look at Scooter Gennett.