I really like Rickie Weeks, and I feel strongly that he has major league ability that just hasn't come out yet. One of the reasons it hasn't come out yet -- one of several -- is that they keep playing him at second base, and he really is not much of a second baseman. I would compare him to Don Buford, a player of three or four generations ago who came up as a highly touted second baseman for the White Sox, but never really could put it together as a second baseman. But Earl Weaver moved him to left field, and he was a very valuable player as a left fielder/leadoff man.
The godfather of sabermetrics Bill James decided to talk about Rickie Weeks. It seems like everyone has wanted to talk about Rickie Weeks lately. Some people go so far as to say that he is a failure at life. I am not one of these people. I love Rickie Weeks, have his jersey and everything. That's why I am not afraid to say that Bill James is wrong about Rickie Weeks. Weeks is flawed, but a move to left field is not going to help him. For the Brewers to extract maximum value from Weeks he needs to make it at 2B.
Where Rickie Weeks against other 2B, 2008 MLB:
Isolated Power: 8th
A conservative estimate would have him as maybe the 10th best offensive 2B in the MLB, at worst 5th in the NL. The biggest problem with Rickie has always been his batting average. Batting average is a pretty empty statistic as far as value goes, but the fact is that .234 isn't good enough. If Weeks hits .260 he is 10th in OPS and we have a completely different view of him as a ballplayer (oh, and his OPS would be higher than Corey Hart).
Before we hate him and his BA, consider this: Weeks' .234 average was 15th out of 16 qualifying 2B in 2008 and he leapfrogs 5 out of those guys when you add in walks. It is clear that Weeks has talent. (I am even leaving out that most of the guys ahead of him in the counting stats had 100+ more plate appearances than him.)
His defense, no matter what stat you use, has him around average. Maybe slightly below. He's not Mark Ellis and he's not Dan Uggla.
When you add his offense and defense together, Weeks is a slightly above average 2B. He has never played below replacement level for the Brewers and has always given them positive value.
Rickie Weeks is a victim of expectations. He was a top pick and is expected to be like his top pick teammates. He never lead off in his life and he was thrust into the role when he was 24, when he probably should have been batting towards the bottom of the order. Yet he's supposed to know how to do it and succeed. Give Weeks credit for all the work he's done with the coaches this spring to figure this out. He knows there's a problem and he knows he can be better. This is a good thing.
It's good because the upside is still there. He's only 26 years old. Will he ever be Chase Utley? No, but over a full season I think he is a lock for 15HR/20SB/100R with a .350-.370 OPS. Does this sound like a player who fails at life? Or someone very similiar to (but with a lower BA/higher OBP) the beloved Corey Hart?