Player Profile: Rickie Weeks

28 02 2008

Continuing on our tour around the diamond, Rickie Weeks is the next on the preview list. Rickie had an absolute roller-coaster ride of a season in ’07, and he looks to continue the hot streak he ended on in September. Many experts are calling for him to have a major breakout year this season, and I have jumped on the bandwagon along with everyone else. Brewers fans look for Rickie to shine this year, so let’s take a closer look at what he offers.

Strengths:

Speed. Anyone who watches Rickie on the basepaths understands that he can run with or faster than almost any player in the league. Along with Corey Hart, Weeks provides the Brewers with a legitimate and consistent running threat when he gets on base, which is shown by his 25 stolen bases last season. His stolen base total has gone up every year since being in the majors, and I do not see why that would change this upcoming season. Yost has said that he wants to make a bigger commitment to being aggressive on the basepaths, and I expect that to involve a lot of Rickie Weeks.

No matter how big of a slump Rickie was in at the plate last season, he always found a way to get on base. As Tom Haudricourt noted yesterday, Rickie Weeks and Barry Bonds are the only two players since 1900 to have scored 100 or more runs on less than 85 hits. Even though he only hit .235 last season, he still was able to post a .374 OBP, with a OBP over .400 in the last two months of the season. As with his stolen base count, his on-base percentage has climbed every season, and with more maturity and a healthy wrist and thumb, Rickie should be able to add to that percentage again this year. Mix that speed with a high OBP, and you can see why Rickie Weeks is Milwaukee’s leadoff hitter.

Rickie is projected to have plus-power every season, but injuries have consistently held him back. He still hit 16 home runs last season, even though he battled injuries and a prolonged slump until the end of the season. Classifying “power” as a strength for Rickie relies on the fact that he is a second baseman, and 16 home runs is above-average power for a second baseman. Not to mention that he has not come close to touching his potential at the plate yet.

Weaknesses:

Weeks is a liability in the field no matter how you look at it. He has tremendous athleticism, but he has not been able to harness that into solid defense to this point. Rickie has improved, however. It is important to note that. In 2006, Rickie posted an abysmal .952 fielding percentage at second base. He vowed to improve that part of his game during the off-season prior to the ’07 season, and he improved his fielding percentage and posted a .976. That percentage is not good, but it is an improvement. Rickie has a strong arm and a big range, so hopefully he can continue that improvement in the field.

Batting Average. Rickie finished last season with a .235 batting average in 409 at-bats. It would be an understatement to call that performance less than desirable. Rickie certainly showed improvement down the stretch last season, but he still tended to lunge a little too much at breaking pitches, trying to pull them. During the biggest part of his slump last season, Rickie rarely saw a fastball, as pitchers knew that he would consistently swing over their breaking pitches. I do not think that he will ever be a .300+ batter, but he can do a lot better than a .235 average. He will need to.

Throughout the last three seasons, Rickie has struggled with injuries. He has suffered a thumb injury and had surgery on his wrist thus far in his career. It is hard to blame Rickie for something like being injury-prone, but it would be foolish to ignore it. Goal number one for Weeks this year will be to play the whole season uninjured.

Projections:

ZiPS – .254/.363/.422
The Hardball Times – .261/.347/.350

For the first time in the Player Profile series, THT has projected a Brewers player to have a lower OBP compared to the ZiPS projection system. I find it interesting that both predictions expect Rickie’s batting average to climb about 25 points, but neither expect his OBP to climb accordingly. I suppose this is because it is difficult to expect, using past data, a player to improve too much in an area when it has not been proven over a long stretch of time. Like I said early, however, I have jumped on the bandwagon, so I think the ZiPS projection is much closer to being on the right track.

Rickie should continue to be a fine leadoff hitter for Milwaukee, as his good health should allow him to produce all season. I expect his stolen base total to increase, as I said above, and he should continue to pressure the opposing team’s defense by aggressively running the basepaths. I do not expect his defense to improve too much in ’08, but it would be a nice surprise if it did. He’s capable of it.

Projected Offensive Line: .260/.373/.418
Projected Season Rating (out of 10): 8.1

Advertisements

Actions

Information

2 responses

28 02 2008
gobrewers

I understand why everyone is thinking that Weeks is going to have a big year, but I have a tough time believing it after the last couple years. That is just me being a pessimist though. He definitely has the tools to be a stud at second.

7 08 2008
Right Field Bleachers » Blog Archive » In the News

[…] – BrewersNation profiles Rickie Weeks. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: