Michael P. Bischoff
Brew City Sports Round-up

Finding the positive with Weeks

TCD breaks down the struggles of Brewers' X-Factor Rickie Weeks, plus news on Jonathan Lucroy, Donald Driver and UWM Men's Baseball.

By - May 29th, 2012 03:06 pm
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Weeks on stage at last year’s playoff rally at the Summerfest grounds. (Photo: Jennell Jenney for TCD)

Back in April TCD’s Dan Shafer identified Rickie Weeks as the Brewers’ “X-factor.” Two months into the season, though, he has been anything but the spark plug the team expected, batting only .151/.291/.293. Dating back to his return from an ankle injury last season, his line is only .169/.309/.303. Moreover, he currently leads the National League with 60 strikeouts. Compounding that, his defense has shown signs of regression, as well. Weeks has become a focus of frustration for fans upset with the team’s poor start, with some armchair managers calling for everything from a few days off to his outright release.

But for as much as he has struggled, things haven’t been all bad for the 2011 All-Star. He draws a lot of walks because of his excellent strike zone awareness, but what’s really encouraging is what he’s done when he has made contact. Weeks has only 25 hits, but five of them have gone for home runs. Among non-injured regulars, his rate of one home run to every five base hits trails only Ryan Braun (1 every 4.15) and Corey Hart (1 every 4.5). Weeks also has 6 doubles and 1 triple, meaning nearly half of his hits have been for extra bases. His batting average on balls-in-play (BABiP) is far off of career average, .202 in 2011 compared to .304 for his career, suggesting he’s also been a victim of bad luck on batted balls. According to Fangraphs, Weeks’ swinging strike rate has grown, and his overall contact rates have dropped. These are the kinds of peripherals that average out over time.

As of Tuesday night, it would take Weeks 47 consecutive base hits to match his career batting average of .250. That’s a deep hole to climb from, but he doesn’t have to do it all at once. Even if he could return to his career averages for the rest of this season, his final line would not be pretty (somewhere in the .217/.328/.384 range with roughly 20-23 home runs, assuming 600 plate appearances), but it would do a great deal help stabilize an offense that has largely been feast-or-famine this season.

In other sports headlines…

  • The Brewers dropped two of three to the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend, and in the middle of a four-game series in Los Angeles. Aramis Ramirez left Friday night’s game after getting hit by a pitch and missed Saturday and Sunday’s games with a swollen elbow. He told reporters that the bean-ball games have to stop. César Izturis was also injured Friday night, and was placed on the 15-day DL with a hamstring strain.
  • In further injury news, Jonathan Lucroy is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a “boxer’s fracture,” after his wife dropped on suitcase on him while he was reaching for a sock before yesterday’s game. The Brewers’ record stands at 20-28.
  • There were no Wisconsin natives in this past Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, but Australian Ryan Briscoe, who finished 5th behind winner Dario Franchitti, has strong roots in Wisconsin. His first career IndyCar win was at the Milwaukee Mile in 2008, and his wife was born in Wausau. FOX6’s Tim Van Vooren spoke with Briscoe in advance of Milwaukee IndyFest, scheduled for Father’s Day weekend June 15 and 16.
  • Lance Allen of Today’s TMJ4 reported late last week that the Packers have offered 13-year vet (and Dancing With the Stars champion) Donald Driver a restructured contract in an effort to keep the popular wide receiver in the Green and Gold for another season. Driver is the Packers’ all-time leader in receptions and trails only hall-of-famer James Lofton in yards, but his production has steadily decreased with the emergence of Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, and Jordy Nelson. There has been speculation that Tori Gurley, or even Shaky Smithson, could push Driver off of the roster. Gurley spent 2011 on the practice squad, but was offered a roster spot mid-season by the Minnesota Vikings. Gurley chose to stay with the Packers when the team matched the Vikings’ salary offer. In 2011 the Packers kept five wide receivers on the active roster, as well as five tight ends. The team could choose to keep an extra wide receiver at the expense of a tight end.
  • The UWM Men’s Baseball team was bounced from the double-elimination Horizon League baseball tournament Friday afternoon in Chicago. The Panthers, who finished the season with an even 27-27 record, lost in 12 innings to the Wright State Raiders (37-20). Milwaukee tied the game in the top of the 9th, but couldn’t push across the go-ahead run. UWM was upset by Youngstown State 8-4 in the first round of the tournament last Wednesday, then rebounded with a 19-2 victory over Butler. The team finished the season on a 21-11 run under 6th year head coach Scott Doffek after losing 16 of their first 22.
  • The Milwaukee Mustangs lost to the Tampa Bay Storm 63-55 Saturday night, falling to 3-7 on the season. They host the San Jose Saber Cats this Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Categories: Life & Leisure, Sports

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