Waiting on Weeks for years

So…when exactly is Rickie Weeks going to break out?

Weeks has a tremendous amount of tools and has shown flashes of brilliance during his time in the majors. However, Weeks doesn’t appear to be improving.

Weeks hit .234/.342/.398 this year, following up a 2007 in which he hit .235/.374/.433. He also added 14 homers and 19 steals (in 24 attempts).

The low batting average is a source of frustration to many fantasy owners. Both last year and this year, Weeks suffered from a bit of bad luck: according to my new-fangled BABIP model, Weeks’s expected BABIPs over the last two years have been .321 and .294, while his actual BABIPs have been .289 and .280, respectively. However, in 2006, his actual BABIP exceeded his xBABIP, so there’s no reason to think that the system is underrating Weeks.

However, even adjusting for his lost hits doesn’t bring Weeks’ batting average much above .250. He did manage to lower his strikeout rate this year – he struck out in 24.2% of his at bats this year, as compared to 28.4% last year, but the reason for this appears to be simply that he was making contact with more bad pitches, rather than becoming more choosy at the plate. He actually increased the number of pitches out of the strike zone that he swung at in 2008. Opposing pitchers took advantage of this by throwing Weeks a steady diet of offspeed pitches – just over 44% of the pitches Weeks saw were offspeed.

Although he possesses good raw power, Weeks has still not translated that power into large numbers of home runs. Part of the problem is that he hits many of his balls in play on the ground – only 38.7% of his balls in play were fly balls this year. This, combined with a high number of strikeouts, limits the amount of balls that have the chance to leave the park.

Finally, Weeks is getting to the point where he’s not young anymore. He turned 26 last September, and has yet to make good on his considerable talent. The raw talent is still there, but the chances of him capitalizing on that grow slimmer every year. He still has the chance to become an elite offensive second basemen, but there is no statistical evidence that he’s improving. Draft Weeks expecting similar numbers next season – perhaps a few more homers and a slightly higher batting average. There is a non-zero chance that Weeks could break out, but the chances are not great.

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R.J. Anderson

The top of that 2003 draft doesn’t look so hot anymore. Young, Weeks, Sleeth, Stauffer, Lubanski, Harvey, ect.