I was at MASN's Blogger Night at Camden Yards the night that the decision to call Matt Wieters up to Baltimore was announced. The mood was electric. It is rare, in these dozen years of losing, to see that kind of excitement among Oriole fans and it was easy to see the crushing expectations that were placed on the shoulders of the young catcher.
Many fans were disappointed in Wieters 2009 debut and many national baseball writers are significantly lowering expectations.
Did those expectations get to him? Maybe but I doubt it. It may seem like Wieters marched through the minor leagues like a hot knife through butter but the reality is that at each level he struggled for a time, then destroyed the league. Outside of A+ Frederick, he has to make adjustments at every level.
I predicted it would take Wieters a full two months of games to adjust to major league pitching.
G AVG OBP SLG OPS HR May 29th-July 28th 39 .273 .322 .388 .711 3 July 29th - EOS 57 .298 .352 .428 .780 6
Those end of the season numbers include a torrid September/October where Wieters hit .333/.395/.486 with 4 homers.
Wieters was just short of being a league average hitter (97 OPS+) and as an American League catcher that was good enough for the third-best hitting catcher in the league. Not bad for a rookie.
So enormous expectations aside, it was a very solid rookie season for Matt Wieters. His defense improved as well and projections show that he will be above average in blocking pitches and by the end of the season his Caught Stealing numbers were right around average for a catcher not named Laird.
And the fact that he improved as the season went along gives me hope that he's making the necessary adjustments to succeed in the majors. I expect big thing from Wieters in 2009. Look, he OPS'ed 1.014 in the minors, I think it's doubtful that his power just disappeared. Besides, 5 of his 9 homers were to the opposite field. He even hit a homer off of Chad Bradford! You know how hard that is? Big power in that bat.
If you've seen my WAR projections, you know I expect Wieters to OPS .825 in his sophomore season with a chance for a quantum leap to even more. Relax, Orioles fans. our savior is here.