Matt Wieters is finally starting to fulfill the massive promise he showed in the minors.
His bat finally started to come around and he flashed some of that power we expected to see from Day 1. He smacked 22 homers, and easily set career highs in slugging percentage and ISO. I don't think anyone believed that Wieters would be such a good defensive catcher but he delivered Gold Glove caliber defense and has cemented himself as one of the better defensive catchers in the game. No regular delivered such a combination of bat and glove from the catcher position in 2012. (OK, Arizona's Miguel Montero comes close.)
So this is it right? He just keeps getting better and better and multiple MVPs lie in his future. Well, not exactly...
He did only hit .262 last season. He lowered his strikeout rate for the third straight season but his walk rate dipped a bit as well, contributing to his .328 OBP. And he only OPSed .662 against right handed pitchers.
Which is what concerns me. Over the first two seasons of his career, Wieters has hit fairly well against righties while struggling mightily against lefties. This season, while he was posting that .662 OPS against righties he was clobbering lefties to the tune of a 1.124 OPS.
Leaders in wOBA against left handed pitchers in 2011:
wOBA Bautista .475 Wieters .472 Kemp .462 Napoli .445 Braun .443
After struggling against lefties for his first two seasons, Wieters hit them, literally, at MVP levels in 2012.
Which is great...but it screams fluke.
Is Wieters going to keep OPSing 1.124 against lefties going forward. Not a chance. His OPS against lefties prior to last season was sub-.650. There's just no way he can sustain that. He career OPS against righties is .725. There is reason to believe that 2012 will see a slight hiccup and/or regression in Wieters' offensive production.
But there are still reason to believe in the bat. The power surge is likely legit and more in line with what we expected from him all along (.188 ISO in '11, a 60 point jump from the previous year) and the .276 BABIP was probably a little unlucky. With the power likely to keep on an upward clip and a few more balls falling his way, the regression against lefties that is likely to occur can be offset.
The bat is very good for a catcher and I think ultimately he will be an elite hitter but 2012 may be a bit uneven and a struggle for our Gold Glove catcher.