One of the most exciting parts of Spring Training for fans is the position battles. Not only do teams have young players who are fighting for roster spots, but there are veterans looking to maintain their long standing roles as starters.
One Brewer veteran battling for a starting spot is Rickie Weeks. After the outstanding showing of Scooter Gennett in his absence last season, Weeks is no longer assured a starting spot out of camp. He will need to produce like the player he was long expected to be if he wants to maintain his starting role going forward.
When Weeks was selected with the second pick of the 2003 draft, he had the highest of expectations. Coming off two consecutive college seasons in which he led the nation in batting, Weeks quickly debuted with the club and became a mainstay in the lineup by 2005. When he connects, he hits the ball harder than anyone in the league. At the top of the order, he possesses a longball bat, rarely found in the leadoff spot. His best season came in 2011, when he appeared in his first all-star game before injuring his ankle late in the season.
But while he has been a Brewers starter for much of the past nine seasons, he has a career batting average of just .247. Weeks’ tendency to strikeout makes his leadoff spot a gamble each time out. His horrendously slow starts have been a crutch to the team the past two seasons. Over those seasons, Weeks has failed to bat higher than .200 in April and May. This is not the type of hitter clubs look for in their leadoff spots. In the field, Weeks has greatly improved, showing ability to make amazing plays. However, he still struggles at times with routine grounders and throws.
This spring Weeks has started out like a man on a mission. He is often acknowledged as the hardest worker on the team, and he has talked about the adjustments he made entering camp. Weeks is looking to come back, hitting a scorching .353 with a homerun in just seven games He has also showed an outstanding eye by recording a .500 on-base percentage.
After his slow starts the past few seasons, Weeks has a lot to prove as they leave Arizona. When drafted, he was expected to be a game changing player. While he has shown flashes at times, this player has never shown up for long. With a club option for 2015 and competition at second base, the 31 year old Weeks needs to perform to remain a part of the team past 2014. If he can, he will give the club one of the most powerful leadoff options in the game. If he doesn’t, he will assuredly be looking at free agency this upcoming off-season.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference