A healthy Rickie Weeks=A playoff birth for the Brewers in 2008
When talking about the Brewers young stars, you will hear the names Fielder, Braun, Hardy, Hart and Gallardo. Less than 2 years ago, the name at the top of that list was Weeks, Rickie Weeks.
Weeks was the Brewers first round pick out of Southern University in 2003. He came to the Brewers full-time in June of 2005 as the team's first of many hyped young stars. Weeks went on to have a solid rookie year although he struggled mightily in the field. After that first season, Weeks had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb.
It was much of the same in 2006 for Weeks. He had good offensive numbers, too many errors at second base and would again undergo surgery. This time it was surgery on his right wrist to repair a tendon. Surgery was performed on August 15th of last year and recovery was slated to be a year although Weeks said he'd be ready for Spring Training 2007.
Weeks was indeed ready to go from Day 1 in 2007. However he was limited early on in what he could do at the plate. He was allowed no swings-only to bunt the ball- no matter the situation. He struggled terribly at the plate never batting higher than .247 for any month April-July. It was apparent that his wrist wasn't fully healed and people began to openly wonder if Weeks should be sent back down to Triple A. On August 31st, Weeks was sent down to Triple A to 'work out' the kinks of his swing. It gave him a chance to face lesser pitching and get his groove back.
Weeks was called back up to Milwaukee and made his debut again on August 10th, nearly one year since his wrist surgery. It was like seeing a completely different ballplayer. For the month of August, Weeks hit .327, had an on-base percentage of .500 and a slugging percentage of .519.
Although the batting average and on-base percentage dipped in September, .245 and .409, his power came back in full-force. He slugged .571 for the month and hit 9 home runs. He also stole 10 bases leading people to believe that early talk of a 30/30 season was now a possibility for 2008.
Weeks is everything that a team could want in a lead-off hitter. He has tremendous speed, hits for power and has a knack for getting on base at a very high pace. It is the place in the lineup that he needs to be. Some have said he should move down in the order to utilize his power, but he needs to be at the top of the order and be the table-setter for Braun, Fielder and Hart.
Rickie Weeks will enter 2008 fully healthy and ready to live up to his billing that followed him throughout the Minor Leagues. Expect big numbers. A .280 average, over .400 on-base average, 100+ runs and a very real shot at being a 30/30 man from the lead-off spot. If Weeks can achieve those numbers, look for talk of the 1982 Brewers team to stop as we will be focused on the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers in the Playoffs.