Let me put this right in the open, because longtime readers of this site almost certainly know I'm going to say it: Rickie Weeks has had a pretty thoroughly underrated Brewers career. He's played over 1000 games over ten major league seasons, posted a .346 OBP and .422 slugging and over the years his defense has markedly improved at second base. With that said, I think just about everyone is ready to see Weeks and his contract leave Milwaukee at this point.
Weeks was an NL All Star in 2011, but shortly after that things started to go south. He missed a month and a half down the stretch that season with a severe ankle injury, and probably returned sooner than he should have. Then he got off to an awful start in 2012, carrying a sub-.200 batting average through his first 92 games. He showed a glimmer of hope down the stretch that year, but hit just .209/.356/.357 in 2013.
Weeks' clear overall struggles were compounded by the fact that he had some very visible failures in high profile situations. Baseball Reference says he had 77 "high leverage" plate appearances in 2013, and he hit .074/.182/.162 in those opportunities. He's also a career .202/.320/.361 hitter in those situations, so the sample size may be large enough to be more signal than noise at this point.
Of course, Weeks has always helped his own cause a fair amount by getting on base with walks and hit by pitches. His .346 career OBP is very good for a player with his power, but that doesn't help him in the eyes of fans who only evaluate him by his batting average.
For better or worse, Weeks' performance in 2013, combined with the emergence of Scooter Gennett, means his role with this team is uncertain for the first time in quite some time. He seems likely to open next season as the righty half of a platoon at best, which would be a pretty small role for someone with his contract.
And there again, we come across the problem. Weeks has been a productive major leaguer for years, but there's always been something to make fans expect more. First it was the fact that he was the #2 overall pick in the 2003 draft. Then it was his four-year, $38.5 million contract. Weeks has struggled to live up to the expectations generated by both, and that's a large chunk of the reason many fans are ready to hold the door for him as he works his way out of town.
Weeks has been bad more often than not for the last two seasons, but when he's good he can also be really good. We saw a glimpse of that against the Cubs on June 25, when he had three hits and a pair of home runs in a 9-3 victory.
Here are the highlights:
Weeks has one year and $11 million left on his four-year, $38.5 million contract. He also has a vesting option for 2015 that could make his playing time situation really interesting for the year ahead. Here's a breakdown of the situation:
- If Weeks makes 600 plate appearances and is healthy at the end of the season, his option will vest and he'll receive $11.5 million for 2015.
- If Weeks makes fewer than 600 plate appearances, the option becomes a team option that the Brewers will likely decline.
- If Weeks makes more than 400 plate appearances but fewer than 600, however, then the Brewers will have to pay $1 million to void the option.
Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below:
#1: Carlos Gomez
#2: Jonathan Lucroy
#3: Jean Segura
#4: Kyle Lohse
#5: Norichika Aoki
#6: Jim Henderson
#7: Brandon Kintzler
#8: Yovani Gallardo
#9: Wily Peralta
#10: Scooter Gennett
Honorable mentions: Marco Estrada, Ryan Braun, Khris Davis, Tyler Thornburg,Aramis Ramirez, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Bianchi, Caleb Gindl, Logan Schafer, Rob Wooten
Lesser Brewers: Burke Badenhop, Francisco Rodriguez, Jimmy Nelson, Donovan Hand, Sean Halton, Martin Maldonado, Hiram Burgos, Alfredo Figaro, Michael Blazek, Mike Fiers, Juan Francisco, Chris Narveson, Alex Gonzalez