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Rickie Weeks ... reeks. His early-season slump has prompted the Milwaukee Brewers to drop him to sixth in the order in Friday's lineup. He usually hits first or second. Corey Hart moves up to leadoff, where he excelled last year. Not much changes with him. Norichika Aoki will occupy the two-hole but probably not permanently - Nyjer Morgan or Carlos Gomez could be there if this arrangement sticks.
Back to Weeks: The keystoner has stonewalled his owners with a .156/.292/.296 triple slash along with four homers, seven RBIs, 14 runs and two stolen bases, and his peripherals don't foretell a resurrection anytime soon.
Ground balls comprise 50 percent of his in-play whacks, though that's not far off from recent years. His more worrisome stumbles in the accompanying table categories, however, signify that his typically all-fields swing isn't right.
| Weeks' woes
You'd think his loft increase is a good thing for his power to come back, but it has been negated by his infield head-raisers. His yard-leaving has also been confined to left and left-center fields. Though he's predominantly a power puller, his recent woes present a far cry from his right-field bleacher visits in 2011.
Weeks has also been horrific versus fastballs, partially explaining his dip in his already suspect contact rate. Though his increase in walks (9.7 percent in 2011, 14.3 in 2012) would on the surface point to a positive step, his passiveness has also hurt him. He's taking fewer hacks overall, though, and isn't pouncing on as many in-the-zone pitches. MLB.com scooper Adam McCalvy has noticed Weeks frequently diving over the plate when he swings, trying to cheat, a blatant sign that he's uncomfortable in the box. He's timid and lost - terrible combo.
Ron Roenicke said that Weeks made a mechanical adjustment with his hands (details undisclosed), so maybe it'll kick in sometime soon and he can build on his Tuesday homer. Moving down on the card often allows you to see better pitches, and maybe Weeks can regain his aggressiveness and refocus on hitting through the zone with runners on.
Weeks' makeup flaws won't magically disappear, but they're at such a low level right now that it's essentially nothing but profit. His corrupted swing path recalls Adam Dunn v.2011. Could Weeks be this year's candidate to carry the torch? Perhaps, but despite his injury history, Weeks' physique doesn't betray his skill. Slumps happen. Weeks' profile makes him more prone than many others.
Even if he remains in the middle of the order (where he performed competently last year), this lineup still has enough production, despite the jettisoning Prince Fielder and its recent scuffling, to make a streamlined Weeks an asset in team-dependent counting categories, as well.
The potential for a violently positive statistical swing, including a prorated 20-homer yield, is reason enough to buy him at what has to be considered his value basement. Unless Weeks owners get an outstanding offer that befits his standard output, it's probably best just to bench him until he gets going. It could be awhile, but even a few months of a strong Weeks could turn the tide for your team.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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