At the halfway point of the 2012 season, observers looking to grade this version of the Milwaukee Brewers would be challenged to come up with something more accurate than a simple "meh," uttered with a smirk and a roll of the eyes. The Crew is 40-45, eight games behind Pittsburgh in the division and well off the pace of last year's squad, which finished with a franchise-record 96 wins.
Milwaukee would clearly be better with a lineup that included not only Prince Fielder, who is hitting .299 with 63 RBIs for Detroit this year, but also Jonathan Lucroy, Mat Gamel and Alex Gonzalez, all of whom have missed large chunks of the season with injuries. But the Brewers' team batting statistics aren't that much worse than from the first half of 2011. As a team, they're hitting .245 vs. .257 a year ago, scoring 384 runs compared to 405.
What sticks out more than anything is the lack of production from Rickie Weeks. The second baseman earned an All-Star nod a year ago with his .278 average, 15 home runs and 60 runs. This year, those numbers are .199, 8 and 34, and he leads the National League with 100 strikeouts. Plus, he's hitting sixth in the order these days, where opposing pitchers are under no obligation to throw him pitches he can hit. He has walked 45 times so far this year, compared to 50 all of last year.
Signs are pointing to Weeks emerging from his slump. He's hitting .345 in July, including a couple of three-hit outings. With the Brewers starting the second half of the season with series against Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati, they're going to need him.