After three injury-filled seasons, it finally appeared Rickie Weeks was heading for a breakout season in 2009. That ended on a check-swing in St. Louis that saw Weeks tear a tendon in his left wrist.
He was out the rest of the season after playing in just 37 games.
However, it was the best 37 game stretch of his career, and it gave the organization and fans a taste of what Weeks can do when healthy.
He hit .274 with nine home runs, 24 RBI, and 28 runs scored. His average was his highest mark since 2006, and he was on pace for career highs in every offensive category.
Casey McGehee and Felipe Lopez filled in for Weeks, and each filled in quite well both in the field and at the plate. Neither, however, possess the speed or excitement that the former college player of the year does.
For those that haven't had the chance to see Weeks in action, he reminds many of the old Negro League ballplayers. Watching him run from first to third on a base hit to right field is one of the most exciting plays in baseball.
The Brewers rushed Weeks through the minors, and that was a major cause for many of his poor seasons to start his career. He played just one full season in the minors before joining the Brewers in June 2005.
The franchise was nothing like it is now, and both the fans and organization needed a reason to get excited. Weeks was the first of many highly-touted prospects to play on a regular basis, and his struggles should have been expected.
Weeks is healthy again to start this season, and he's had a great start in spring training this year. If his numbers are any indication, Weeks will turn into one of the National League's best second basemen in 2010.
In 18 games, Weeks is hitting .283, with a .411 on-base percentage, and is slugging .435. He has scored 11 runs, and five of his 13 hits have been for extra bases. He only has three stolen bases, but that stat shouldn't scare anyone. As the leadoff hitter, he'll be stealing plenty of bases.
In an ideal world, Carlos Gomez and Alcides Escobar would be the top two hitters in the batting order, allowing Weeks to move into more of a run-producing role for the team.
Until both can improve their plate discipline and get on base more, the 27-year-old Weeks will be the man setting the table for Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
The talent has always been there for Weeks to be a star, and his talent started to shine through last season. As always, staying healthy will be the biggest concern for Weeks.
He's never played over 129 games in a season, but the Brewers need him to play closer to 150 games if they plan on making the playoffs in 2010.
Can Weeks play a full season? Sure he can. Will he play a full season? Well, that's the million dollar question for Weeks, the Brewers, and a fan base desperate to see just how good he can be.
As the team's leadoff hitter, Weeks will have every opportunity for a big season. Many experts feel he is quite capable of hitting 20 home runs and stealing 20 bases. Hitting .280 isn't out of the question either, and scoring 100 runs should be easy hitting in front of Braun and Fielder.
It may be hope talking but don't be surprised to see Weeks make it through a full season in 2010. Doing so while duplicating his 2009 numbers and Weeks will make his first All-Star team.
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