Prince Fielder turned 22 years old this past Tuesday. What's amazing to me isn't the .333 batting average or the 919 OPS. After watching him play for a little more than a month, what's amazing to me is the way that Fielder looks more like a five year veteran than a rookie. Fielder approaches every aspect of the game - hitting, fielding, baserunning - with a naturalness and confidence that makes it look like he's done them all at the major league level a thousand times before. There doesn't appear to be any thinking involved, he just knows what to do. This shouldn't come as too much of a shock, considering that he really has been "playing" on major league fields since he was a youngster and his dad was the pro. But it does clash with the actions of another youngster on the Brewers, Rickie Weeks.
I've seen just about all of the Brewers' games that have been broadcast this season, and one thing that really stands out is the lack of baseball "instinct" that Weeks displays. "Instinct" may not be the correct word, and I'm sure stat guys will shudder at it's use, but everything that Weeks does on the field appears to be forced. He's a tremendous athlete, the fastest guy on the team and probably has the fastest hands through the strikezone. The problem is that everything he does looks like the first time he's ever done it. He currently leads the majors with 10 errors, most of which are throwing and catching. He has a very hard time recognizing a curveball or offspeed pitch, which contributes to his 29 strikeouts in 105 at-bats. He looks to me like a guy who can rip up the minors solely with his athleticism, but can't quite do it in the majors.
I really hope that this is just a learning process for him, that the game will slow down for him at some point, and he'll realize his full potential. He only turns 24 later this season so there is still plenty of time left. Right now I wouldn't put him in the "can't miss" category, like I would with Fielder.