The Problem With Moving Rickie Weeks Down In The Lineup

So by now, you've probably heard this: Ron Roenicke juggled the Brewer batting order a bit on Saturday, moving Corey Hart up to the #1 spot in the lineup and moving Rickie Weeks down to #5. Here's how it's worked out:

Corey Hart AVG OBP SLG OPS Rickie Weeks AVG OBP SLG OPS
As #1 hitter .143 .280 .429 .709 As #5 hitter .350 .435 .750 1.185
Overall .256 .339 .465 .804 Overall .277 .351 .491 .842

Despite his small sample-sized struggles, two of Hart's three hits from the leadoff spot have been home runs and he's drawn three walks to set the table for the heart of the order. The team is 4-1 since the switch so everyone is happy, right?

Well, not necessarily.

While I recognize the logic behind the move and the reports that Hart didn't want to bat fifth anymore, I'm not sure I agree with the decision to move Rickie Weeks, one of the Brewers' most valuable hitters, down in the lineup. As evidence why, consider these numbers:

Player Games Plate Appearances
Rickie Weeks 98 448
Prince Fielder 99 419

Behold the power of the leadoff spot. Despite the fact that he's played one less game (plus five as a #5 hitter), being the Brewers' primary leadoff man has brought Weeks to the plate nearly 30 times more often than Fielder. That's roughly one time every three games where Weeks came to the plate an extra time because he was batting first, and wouldn't have come to the plate if he were batting fifth (or fourth).

Here's a better look at the plate appearances Brewer batters are getting by lineup position:

Pos PA PA/G
1 460 4.64
2 446 4.51
3 432 4.36
4 423 4.27
5 417 4.21
6 405 4.09
7 393 3.97
8 383 3.87
9 370 3.74

So, on average, moving down from #1 to 5 is costing Weeks .43 late inning plate appearances per game, or roughly 31.5 opportunities over the Brewers' remaining 73 games. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that. Are you?

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