The Milwaukee Brewers lost their third straight game to the St. Louis Cardinals and fourth straight at home today. Although the team has battled extremely well in the last two games against a tough Cardinals pitching staff, it seems clear that some changes need to be made to improve the Brewers' chances going forward.
One easy change that Ron Roenicke could make to the team's batting order would be to move the struggling Rickie Weeks further back in the team's lineup. Saturday's 7-6 loss against the Cardinals ended with Rickie Weeks flying out while Carlos Gomez was standing in the on-deck circle.
That would be the same Gomez that entered today's game leading the National League in batting average. The same Gomez that had already hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the same game.
It's no secret that Rickie Weeks has struggled out of the gates, just as he did in 2012. Weeks went 0-4 and has thus far amassed a paltry .185 batting average for the year.
The fact is that having Weeks batting in the top five slots, as he has all year, is now costing the Brewers at-bats for their hot-hitting players. Having Weeks in the fifth batting spot meant that he got one more at-bat than Gomez who is currently hitting .373 and leading the National League in that category.
Looking across the league at the other 26 teams in action today (one game was postponed), Weeks had the second lowest batting average of all the No. 5 batters scheduled to play. Weeks and Raul Ibanez of the Seattle Mariners were in fact the only two players scheduled for the fifth batting spot today with an average below .200.
Examining most major league lineups, the general theme is that batting averages trend downward from top to bottom. Prevailing theory suggests that a team's best hitters should follow each other in order to produce runs. However, in the case of the Brewers and Weeks, there has been a precipitous production drop-off for the Brewers in the middle of their order.
The Brewers are blessed to have two players, Gomez and Yuniesky Betancourt, who are each outperforming expectations at the plate. However, because Ron Roenicke insists on keeping Weeks in the top five, their contributions are diminished by batting further back in the order and consequently getting fewer at-bats.
A troubling situation that will only be compounded by the return of Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart to the regular lineup if it isn't rectified soon.
Rickie Weeks simply isn't producing enough offense to bat that high up in the Brewers order. As a result, the team should go with the bats that are producing, as opposed to stubbornly waiting for Weeks to right the ship. There's also no telling what a small change like that might do to improve the overall efficiency and chemistry of the team.
The best clubs in the league make continuous adjustments based on player performance. The Brewers should consider doing the same in an effort to put their most competitive team on the field each and every day.