What’s Wrong with Rickie Weeks?

Rickie Weeks has been struggling. The 29-year-old second baseman has never been a high-average hitter, but this season he’s reached a new low. Among qualified hitters, Weeks’ .154 batting average rates as the second worst in the league. Weeks has shown elite ability in the past, but owners are probably having some buyer’s remorse right now. And while trading him won’t bring back a fair return, owners are best sticking it out and hoping Weeks turns things around.

Thankfully, there are some signs that might actually happen. Weeks’ .209 BABIP currently rates as one of the lowest in the league. Since his career BABIP is .305, we can definitely expect him to improve at some point. But there are some reasons why Weeks’ BABIP is so low, and until he can sort through those issues, he might continue to struggle.

Weeks has been incredibly patient this year, walking in 14.1% of his plate appearances. And while that walk rate is one of the best in the league, his extreme level of patience could be fueling his poor start. Weeks is being too selective at the plate. Each of his Swing rates (O-Swing%, Z-Swing% and Swing%) are all down from the last two seasons. Due to his reluctance to swing, Weeks’ strikeout rate has ballooned to 31.2% this season. Weeks has always been a high-strikeout hitter, but that number is nearly 10% above his career rate. The past two seasons, Weeks’ walk rate has hovered around 10.0%. Being patient is nice, and walks are great, but in Weeks’ case, being slightly less selective could lead to better results.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that will help. When Weeks has swung the bat this season, he hasn’t made contact as much as usual. All of Weeks’ Contact rates (O-Contact%, Z-Contact% and Contact%) are all down this year. And adding to those struggles, Weeks’ SwStr% has jumped to 11.2 as well. That helps explain why Weeks has struck out more often this year.

Weeks’ batting struggles can also be attributed to a terrible infield fly ball rate. Weeks has hit an infield fly ball in 20.6% of his plate appearances. That’s one of the worst rates in the league this year. Since infield pop-ups are incredible easy to catch, it’s not a surprise that Weeks’ batting line has been down. His elevated infield fly ball rate is taking away from his line drive rate. It seems like he hasn’t squared up the ball as often early in the season.

Even though he’s gotten off to a terrible start, there’s some hope for Weeks. He’s never been this bad before in his career, and it’s highly likely that his stats will even out as the season progresses. Still, his struggles have been concerning. And unless he is able to make some changes to his approach, Weeks may fail to reach his previous heights. Thankfully, outside of a recent wrist injury, Weeks has been relatively healthy this season. As long as this injury doesn’t linger, Weeks should be able to improve on his performance. He may hit for a poor average, but hopefully his power and patience will make up for that. There’s still hope for Weeks, but he may have trouble living up to his draft status this season.

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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

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lester bangs
lester bangs

Lotta hedges here. Here’s my prognosis: bail.