A Look at Weeks

Before Rickie Weeks’ season ended prematurely thanks to a wrist injury, he was enjoying the makings of a career season. He’d hit nine home runs in roughly 150 at-bats while his previous career high of 16 came in 409. His .245 ISO would’ve easily been a career high and his .365 wOBA could’ve tied his previous career high if it remained static throughout the year. Lost, though, is something else about Weeks’ game.

Drafted second overall in the 2003 draft out of Southern University, Weeks’ career has been a bit frustrating, if superior to that Delmon Young fellow. Injuries have allowed Weeks to record more than 500 plate appearances exactly twice. His career .344 wOBA is fine for a second baseman (or anyone really), and when he has been able to stay on the field, he’s posted WAR of 3.3 and 2.1.

So what was ignored? His defensive play over the last few seasons.

Weeks posted a combined UZR score of -22.5 through 2006 (which covers 1,652.3 innings), yet has a 0.5 UZR since (in 2,343.7 innings). The issues mostly stemmed from horrendous error rates, since his range and double-play ability scores out as roughly average throughout his career. Weeks’ throwing appears improved, although maybe Prince Fielder is more graceful than he seems.

There’s improvement here, but do not, under any circumstances, buy into Weeks’ 21.9 UZR/150 as gospel. Besides the fact that 300 innings is an extremely small sample size, note that Weeks’ RngR in 2009 was uncharacteristically good. That means, if you’re placing money or life on Weeks’ UZR range, then gamble on something like -5 < x < 5 runs. Hopefully for Weeks, the wrist injury doesn’t linger and he can get back to where he left off.

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I get to a fair number of Brewers games each season. I’ve made a few eye observations about Weeks and Fielder.

Fielder has improved greatly in his ability to scoop a ball out of the dirt – as in didn’t use to do it at all and does it regularly now. (Are scoops recorded anywhere? Aramis Ramirez wouldn’t be able to play third without Derek Lee). The number of times Weeks triple pumps a throw waiting for Fielder to not only get to first but also to set up only to then throw the ball away seems to have decreased at the same time. Don’t know if the two events are related.