by Nathan Petrashek
You could hear the collective moan around Brewer Nation on July 27, 2011. As Rickie Weeks, the Brewers’ All-Star second baseman, tripped over first base and lay flat on his face, everyone knew it was serious. Weeks, a tough-as-nails type, would usually spring right up, but these were not normal circumstances. Weeks was placed on the DL with a severely sprained ankle the following day and would miss all of August before returning on September 10. Even now, at the start of spring training, the sprain is just fully healed.
The injury wasn’t devastating to the Brewers – the team actually went on a tear in August – but with the offensive juggernaut Prince Fielder departing, Weeks will be key to filling the void in 2012.
The time missed in 2011 obviously affected Weeks’ counting stats, but by all other measures, Weeks was the same hitter as in 2010. Weeks ended both years with a .269 average, and while his on base percentage was slightly higher in 2010, his slugging percentages were almost identical, too. Pitchers tried adjusting to Weeks’ 29-HR 2010 campaign by throwing more offspeed pitches, but it didn’t matter; Weeks’ avoided the temptation to chase balls outside the zone. In fact,Weeks’ swing percentages were virtually unchanged from 2010, though he has always been aggressive at the dish. In essence, Weeks is a known quantity on offense; he is an average contact hitter with good power and discipline.
On defense, Weeks has been a work in progress. After trucking along in negative UZR/150 territory for his first few years at second, Weeks finally pulled up into the positive in 2010 and 2011. Weeks isn’t the flashiest player, but his now-average range isn’t going to hurt the team much; if anything, he’s struggled more with balls hit straight at him last year. He continues to give up errors at an unacceptable rate, leading all second basemen with 15 last year (tied with Dan Uggla).
The biggest question isn’t what Weeks will do on the field, it’s whether he can stay there. Weeks has, to say the least, a lengthy injury history. While I don’t think he’ll fall below last year’s 515 plate attempts, it’s safe to say that 2010′s 754 is an outlier.
2012 Projection: 135 G, 607 PA, 532 AB, 145 H, 90 R, 29 2B, 4 3B, 24 HR, 72 RBI, 61 BB, 130 K, 12 SB, .272/.359/.477