We here at RRSMB love Rickie Weeks. Like, a lot. I can’t speak for everyone else on the site but I love Rickie’s skillset, and I think he worked very hard to stick at 2nd base where his numbers play better than almost anyone else in the league when he’s healthy (health being the one legitimate knock on Weeks). He’s a good, entertaining, homegrown player with a very team-friendly contract. What’s not to love?
Rickie Weeks is having a bad year. Let’s not sugar coat it. His extremely and extended slow start was one of several factors keeping the Brewers out of contention in 2012 (though I would argue it pales in comparison to the bullpen meltdown). But some people are just going completely bonkers with the Rickie hate, and using all sorts of phrenology and homeopathy to besmirch one of the Brewers’ most valuable players of the last 5 years. Take this guy. His name is Colin Bennett and he really likes batting average:
Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks has been covered over the course of his nine seasons in the Major Leagues equally for what he has and has not done.
Well, those are the two options.
For many people in Milwaukee and baseball fans outside of the state lines, he has become a favorite member of the team. He was part of that crew of young players – Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and in some respects Corey Hart – that was supposed to grow with the team and turn it into a contender.
I understand leaving out Hardy since he’s no longer on the team, but I feel like Yo doesn’t get enough love. Braun and Gallardo both joined the team in 2007, but while Braun is 28, Gallardo is still only 26 years old. Let’s not discriminate against pitchers.
The Brewers did, in fact, turn into that contender – believe it or not the team is actually in the Wild Card race this season – but there’s simply no way you can attribute any large portion of that to Rickie Weeks.
I’m pretty sure that you can. Here, check this out.
2008 wasn’t a great year for Rickie but it was pretty good. He was 6th in the NL in fWAR (that’s fangraphs WAR) among 2nd basemen, hitting .234/.342/.398 with 14 HRs. He also stole 19 bases with an 80% success rate. And at the risk of cherry-picking, Rickie killed it in September and October of that year (you know, the playoff contending part) hitting a robust .283/.415/.528 (that’s a .944 OPS).
In 2011 Rickie was the 2nd best 2nd baseman in the NL. You may remember it, it was last year. He hit .269/.350/.468 with 20 HR. He was awesome. He was even a slightly positive defensive player per UZR (1.6) and FRAA (.3)
Over the course of his career, Rickie Weeks has had potential somewhere between ‘up the wazoo’ and ‘coming out of his ears,’ but is it just wishful thinking to assume it’s ever going to materialize?
Short answer: yes.
Did I mention that in 2010 Rickie Weeks was the BEST 2nd baseman in all of baseball (tied with Robinson Cano in fWAR at 6.5). I think his potential may have materialized that year.
In fact, I’m willing to go so far as to say that the contract Rickie Weeks is currently living out might be one of the most disappointing decisions the team has made in recent memory – up to and including the deals that brought Eric Gagne and Jeff Suppan to Milwaukee. The numbers ought to back this up.
Oh, if only there was some tool we could use to look up both the value of players as well as the amount of money we have paid them. If only we had such a thing we would be able to see that Weeks was worth 18.6 wins through 2011 while making $13,296,000 over that period, or $715,000 per win, while Jeff Suppan was good for 1.7 wins while making $40,000,000, or $23,500,000 per win. Eric Gagne was worth -1.1 wins, the Brewers paid him 10 mill to be worse than a AAA player. I’m not sure how to calculate that on a “per win” basis. My calculator threw up when I tried to type in the numbers.
Rickie’s career as a whole is barely mentioned – more often than not the 2009 and 2010 seasons are brought up as evidence that he is, as Sports Illustrated and Yahoo! Sports once reported, one of the most under-rated players at his position. Rickie Weeks’s career batting average is .252.
It’s probably been awhile since all of you read the “Batting Average” entry in the Fire Joe Morgan glossary. Why don’t we all do that now. It will help us remember to look at Rickie’s .351 career OBP and .428 slugging percentage. You know, the stats that matter somewhat.
In his most productive years – the aforementioned period of 2009-2011 – Rickie hit .272, .269, and .269 respectively. They were good years, yes, but really only good years for him. They weren’t the best numbers in the National League in those years
No, they were the 6th best numbers in the NL that year.
– or even the best numbers at his position.
Actually in 2010 they were the best numbers in all of baseball for a 2nd baseman, as previously mentioned.
Except for his home run numbers in 2010, when he knocked 29 balls out of the park, he barely grazed the top ten of all second basemen in offensive categories amongst other second basemen. So the argument that many have used – including myself – in defense of Rickie that the talent level at second base is not as high as it used to be is not only wrong, it actually works against his case.
Rickie Weeks fWAR rank in the NL among 2nd basemen since 2007:
2009: DNQ due to injury, but had 1.4 in just 37 games, hit .272/.340/.517
Weeks only reached those numbers one other time in his career, in 2006. Perhaps it’s time to accept that those seasons were the exceptions to the rule. He will make $10 million this year for stats that are barely above the average player who could potentially replace him. And that’s just on offense.
This is kind of hilarious because Weeks wasn’t even very good as a 23-year-old in 2006. He flashed some nice on-base skills (.363) but his power hadn’t really developed yet and he only played in 95 games. By OPS+ 2006 was one of Rickie’s worst years. Is it opposite day? Is up now down? Are dogs and cats now living together? Has Zuul risen?
If you’re looking to see what statistics Rickie Weeks has led the National League in over the course of his career, you need to see the column marked ‘Errors.’
Oh boy, it’s the judgment stat that benefits guys with poor range! I officially score “errors” to be a terrible statistic. Are you going to argue with my official scoring? I’ve tricked you! If you hate official scoring then you’ve now undercut the rationale for errors! Oh man, you should see the look on your face…
At 122 botched plays, no one has been more effective at not being effective than Weeks at second base. He is not only the leader amongst all active second basemen right now, but has also led the league in errors five times in his career including most of 2012. He has also consistently performed under the league average in fielding percentage, despite being the 23rd ranked active player at his position with a lifetime average of .9689. That, by the way, is not as good as it appears on the surface when you consider that there are 30 Major League teams and his major league service is comparable to nearly everyone above him on the list.
Weeks is not nearly the butcher he’s been made out to be. OK, this year he’s debatably been that butcher (-17.4 UZR, -14.1 FRAA) but let’s keep in mind that even the people who design defensive stats will tell you that they are garbage over a sample size of even an entire season. Over his career weeks has been close to an average defender. Without 2012 his career FRAA is -4.4. His career UZR is worse but that’s due to some early career struggles (-13.0 and -10.3 in 2005/2006). From 2007-2011 he’s actually a positive 1.1. In the aggregate he’s slightly below average, but hardly a disaster.
So, if we are willing to assume that a second baseman’s defensive ability is more important than his offensive output, we must again assume that Rickie Weeks falls below the level of expectation for a second baseman on this team.
That’s just dumb. Having a good defensive 2nd baseman is nice, but players can add value in many different ways and Rickie’s offensive prowess has always more than made up for his defensive shortcomings.
Now, the real question is what to do with Rickie now that we find ourselves holding onto an enormous contract for a roughly average player.
Rickie is an absolute bargain through 2015 as long as he doesn’t decline substantially, and his late season rally this year is a good sign that, to this point, he has not.
In my opinion, you can’t lose by being rid of him. Even if the Brewers did have to eat the bulk of his contract, which runs through 2014 with an option for ’15 – the team would still be potentially just as well off with a generic replacement, at least in the short term.
That’s a nice iPad 2 you have there. There are 3 iPads out, so that’s really an average iPad, right? And you already paid your 600 bucks for it, right? Well, tell you what, why don’t you give that iPad to me and get yourself an original iPad1? No? Oh, because you seemed to be saying that that’s a good idea.
I know nobody is willing to walk away from that kind of money, but the truth is regardless of whether he’s on your team or just simply collecting a check, he’s a liability.
I’m not even sure what to say to this. Rickie’s better than average and WAY better than replacement level. Even this year he’s a win better than replacement with games still to be played, and he’s been about as bad as he can be. The Brewers have to pay him regardless of whether they play him, and there are no superior options available, and also you would still have to pay that guy even if it’s the league minimum.
I would rather have a liability off the team, with a cheaper replacement under team control.
Rickie is still signed for at least 2 more years you know.
So is the verdict still out on Rickie Weeks? If you are willing to take yourself away from the sentimental value of Weeks, there’s barely a case to be made in his defense.
If Rickie Weeks weighs the same as a duck, then he’s a witch.