By Nathan Petrashek
That’s not unwarranted. Weeks is batting .189/.302/.297 on the young season, and his defensive lapses are well documented. So what gives? Why are the Brewers still starting this guy?
To help answer that, let’s take a look at a couple other guys struggling through May 7.
Player A: .208/.255/.296
Player B: .242/.293/.435
Player A is Josh Hamilton, a career .300/.359/.539 hitter. Guess what? Hamilton’s still starting. Player B is Adrian Beltre, who you probably saw tonight. For his career, he’s at .279/.330/.475. But they’re bums, right? Bench them all!
Historical performance plays a big role in determining how long a leash a struggling player gets. Weeks isn’t Hamilton or Beltre, but he’s been a very solid offensive player during his career, slashing .249/.348/.425. Fangraphs says he’s been worth 17.3 wins above replacement (Hamilton is at 23.5 over a slightly shorter period). Point being: we know Weeks’ ceiling, and it’s pretty damn good, particularly at a position not ordinarily known for offensive prowess.
Of course, I doubt anyone would be complaining too forcibly if Weeks hadn’t had the worst year of his career last year. And it got bad last year; really bad. On May 31, 2012, Weeks was batting just .158/.292/.294. And you know what? After that, he looked a lot like the familiar Rickie Weeks, slashing .260/.344/.445.
But even more compelling is the absence of an heir apparent at second base. Scooter Gennett is doing just fine at AAA Nashville, but he’s a hit-first kid who doesn’t really play second well, doesn’t display much power, and doesn’t walk. He’s also played just 24 games at AAA, and is a complete unknown at the major-league level. Yuniesky Betancourt has done fine as an emergency fill-in at first and third bases, but he’s barely played any second base and his .306 OBP just barely tops Weeks’ .302. Betancourt is also a career .260/.290/.395 hitter. It’s all fun and games while he’s whacking home runs, but you’re nuts if you think he’s going to continue that kind of pace all year.
You can argue about where Weeks should be in the lineup right now, but there’s no question he should be in it for the time being. Let’s have this conversation in June.