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Answer: There Is a Lot Wrong

Gotta start finding some holes...
Gotta start finding some holes...

Way back on May 1st, there was growing concern with the play of one Jemile Weeks. At that time he was hitting to a .181/.260/.309 slash line and had a .256 wOBA and a 61 wRC+. Today he is doing better, but still nothing to write home about at .221/.316/.314 with a .286 wOBA and 80 wRC+. That day cuppingmaster wrote a post where he basically assigned all of Weeks' troubles to some poor luck. He wrote,

"With his MiLB + MLB BABIP being well over .300, this suggests that Weeks has had some pretty bad luck overall right now. Another reason for the lower BABIP? With 2/17 of his hits leaving the yard, that means those hits aren’t counted as being in play, and therefore keeping his BABIP artificially low. Thought another way: if those HRs were instead doubles or triples high off the wall, his BABIP would be higher since those balls would be in play. So, that .197 BABIP is due to regress up towards his career mean, and likely allow some of those groundballs and line drives to find holes where they are not currently."

That certainly explained some of the problem, as the BABIP was at .197 at that time. Today it still stands at a low .253. In summarizing his findings he wrote this,

"Conclusion: in all likelihood, Weeks will be just fine offensively. Just give it time."

Well two months more have elapsed. And the results as shown before still aren't exactly there. Sure they are improved but Weeks is nowhere near the player he was yesterday, is nowhere near an All-Star caliber player, is nowhere near the leader he was expected (incorrectly, in my mind) to be. But the question that was the title of that piece of was "Is there anything wrong with Jemile Weeks?" sitting here on June 28th, the answer is a clear: yes.

That same day, I advocated considering demoting Weeks to Sacramento. I highlighted that there had to be something wrong with his swing because the BABIP was down on all types of hits.

"In 2011, Weeks benefited from a BABIP of .350, and while Alan and some commenters chose to focus on contact rate as being similar and also the line drive BABIP being dissimilar (last year Week’s LD BABIP was .675 to this year’s .471) the big difference really is the ground ball BABIP. Last year he was, benefited by his speed in some cases I am sure, but benefited far more so by a luck a .321 BABIP guy on grounders. This year the BABIP on grounders is .118. That is a significant difference especially with the 2:1 ratio of grounders to line drives he has exhibited this year. Some of that is indeed luck, balls finding holes, but there is no reason to believe that it can swing that much. When all the BABIP numbers are down that isn’t luck, that is evidence of somehow the contact not being as forceful. Slow rollers result in outs, hard hit balls find holes. Loopy line drives find gloves, screaming liners bounce to the walls."

This remains true today. His BABIP on liners has improved to .549, but his BABIP on grounders is still an inexcusable .200. That is weak contact. On average ground balls get through about 24% of the time. Weeks with above average speed should be well above that, but he isn't.

The truth is that Weeks perhaps just isn't that good a hitter. He has shown incredible improvement in some facets of his game, bringing his walk rate from an abysmal 4.8% last year to a to a well above league average 11.2% this year. He has also reduced his strikeouts from 14.2% in 2011 to 13.1% this year. But if he isn't legging out grounders, and if he isn't able to get on more often, he is not the caliber player worthy of a first round pick or of building a franchise around. The problems that he exhibited in April still are hanging around. That's a problem.