Monday, February 21, 2011

The Crystal Ball 2011: Matt Wieters

Matt Wieters flashes his surprising glove.
What can be said about Matt Wieters at this point?

My predictions have been completely wrong. Before last season, I was fooled by a strong finish to the 2009 season. Before 2009, I was fooled by the expectations of every scout and projection on the planet. I have been wrong but I'm not alone.

The expectations for Wieters have been sky high since he was drafted. He hit at every level in the minors. He was described as a "mutant cross between Joe Mauer and Mike Piazza". He was considered the best prospect in baseball and it wasn't really up for debate.

His MLB career numbers:

Year         PA  R 2B 3B HR BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
2 Seasons   887 72 37  2 20 75 180 .266 .328 .393 .721   92

That is not exactly what was expected of him.

To make matters worse, he took a bit of a step back at the plate in his sophomore season. His line drive rate was just 15.4% which supports his weak .287 BABIP. He's not driving the ball enough and his power hasn't developed yet.

Adam Jones kind of implied that Wieters just needed to put a little extra work in if he wants to get the most out of his talent. Is there a makeup issue to be concerned about? I would guess not. Unexpectedly, Matt Wieters has become one of the better defensive catchers in the game according to both The Bill James Handbook and the results of the BtB Catcher Defense Rankings. You probably don't get that good with your defense if you aren't willing to work. If there was one question about Wieters when he came to the majors, it was whether he could stick behind the plate. On that front, Wieters has exceeded expectations.

On the bright side, Wieters had incremental improvements in his walk rate, strikeout rate and his Isolated Power. And he's only going to play at 25 this season. Anecdotal evidence shows that young catchers sometimes take a little longer to develop at the plate. And that ball just jumps off his bat. His swing looks so effortless that you can't believe the ball is travelling that far.

And a bunch of people are jumping off the Wieters bandwagon. Which probably means he is about to start hitting. But my expectations are tempered. I'm not getting fooled again.

2 comments:

Jeff said...

I think that Wieters will finally start putting together. There was a lot of evidence that he was really focusing on the defensive side of things upon reaching the majors, resulting in a lack of warehouse damage.

That said, I think this is my new go-to orioles site after bouncing around the blogosphere looking for serious & intelligent oriole news.stabses

Heath said...

I hope so. Seems to be a hard worker so that should translate at the plate at some point.

Thanks for the compliment and welcome...