Optimism Vs. BaltimoREALITY: Matt Wieters

Over the next few weeks I’m going to take a look at the optimistic and realistic projections for your Baltimore Orioles. I am admittedly an O’s fan. However, I can also separate my fandom from reality to realistically examine each player from an unbiased view.

It’s my belief that the majority of sports fans are not capable of achieving such a feat, nor do they really don’t want to. Most fans choose to remain optimistic about their entire team and hope for the best. Because the Orioles were a losing team for so long, Baltimore is used to not having high expectations. However, after a magical 2012 season, I’m a little concerned that the fan base will once again have sky high expectations. With that being said, let’s take a look at both view points. We will start behind the plate and work our way around the diamond.

Matt Wieters: Optimism vs. Baltimoreality

Matt Wieters

Optimism

Matt Wieters was the #5 overall pick in the 2007 draft. He is playing in his 26-27 year old season. Wieters followed Jason Varitek and Joe Mauer behind the plate at Georgia Tech University, and immediately drew comparisons to the Twins star catcher. In college he was a switch hitting, high average, high power player and earned the nickname “God” from his teammates.

In two short seasons in the minors Wieters hit .343 with 32 home runs and 112 RBI. He is projected to be a batting champion caliber, high average, high power player. The scouts had him projected to be an MVP middle of the order caliber bat. Entering his 4th full season, and getting closer to his prime, Wieters is supposed to continue to develop towards being the elite player many expected him to be out of college.

BaltimoREALITY

Wieters is already an elite catcher. When you combine game calling, defensive skill, and offensive numbers, Wieters is near the top of the list with Buster Posey and Yadier Molina. Last season he was 6th amongst catchers in home runs and 4th in RBI. It is true that Wieters will continue to develop and improve upon his numbers. His home run total, RBI, and walks have steadily increased over the past three seasons.

At age 27, Wieters should be in store for his biggest season yet.  The batting average however, is a different story. Somehow Wieters has gone from being a .343 minor league hitter to a .260 career Major League hitter. With increased production, you have to expect him to inch closer to a .280 type this season, which would be considered “hitting for average.” Unfortunately .280 is not good enough to be a batting champion, like Wieters was projected to be.

Could Wieters eventually be a Major League batting champion? Perhaps. But at this point it’s unlikely that his average will ever get that high. By the time he turns 30 he could be a .300 hitter. Typically when a guy makes a big yearly average leap he shows improvement in the second half. When you read a guys splits and see that he hit .240 in the first half and .302 in the second half, you can predict that a .300 yearly average is attainable.

In that case, something probably clicked for that player in which they found something that would change their career. Wieters doesn’t have any sort of indicators of that magnitude in his splits. My assumption that he will rise closer to .280 is more instinctual than anything. A guy who was taken #5 overall that has had an elite minor league average has to be better than .240. Especially when he’s starting to come into his prime.

What is worrisome about the Wieters’ average situation is the stats of the guys he is compared to. Both Joe Mauer and Brian McCann had immediate success in the average category. At this point in his career, Wieters has numbers that are pretty comparable to Jason Varitek‘s, who never hit higher than .293 and ended up with a career average of .256.  The difference is that Varitek only hit .248 in the minors. All this leads me to believe that Wieters will continue to improve the average until he gets near .300 because his low average thus far has been baffling.

Overall, expect another big season out of Wieters. He should be a middle of the order impact bat. His defense and game calling is second to no one in the American League. Now it’s about time that the Orioles lock him up long term. A 27 year old catcher, with the third best numbers at his position in all of baseball, with the ceiling to become #1, is a guy that needs to be an Oriole for life.

For a fantasy analysis of every player in baseball: The Fantasy God’s 2013 Cheat Sheet is Now Available. This unique color coded cheat sheet gives predictions on the top 1,114 players, as ranked by Yahoo fantasy. The Fantasy God uses his unique knowledge of split statistics, historical trend, and somewhat psychic ability, that brings him great success every season. Follow him on Twitter: @FantasyGodSport.

17 Comments

  1. MGW

    February 25, 2013 at 11:12 am

    As you alluded to, the expectations for Wieters were such that there was no way he could achieve them. Given his defense, his ability to handle pitchers, and his occasional pop, I do believe he is the top catcher in baseball.

    • Mark Brown

      February 25, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      He’s my favorite player of all time. I don’t think there is any denying that he, Posey, and Molina are the top 3 in baseball. He’s better than Posey defensively, and better than Molina offensively.

      • MGW

        February 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm

        Nice to hear from you, Mark. Miss your Fantasy Baseball stuff!

        • Mark Brown

          February 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm

          Thanks. Much appreciated. I’ll be covering the O’s here on BSR, and the fantasy can still be found on my website. Check the cheat sheet link at the bottom of this article. Plenty of fantasy stuff on there!

    • 9inchnails

      February 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      You are looking through rose colored glasses my friend.

  2. 9inchnails

    February 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Wieters is average at best. Look for a .255/23/75 season. That would make him a top 15 offensive catcher. I will give him credit for his game calling and throwing out runners but he had a lot of passed balls and wild paitches get by him last year.

    • Mark Brown

      February 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      Please give me any statistic that puts him lower than the #14 catcher overall? He is widely respected as a top 2 game caller and runner thrower outer with Molina. Offensively I already gave statistics that put him in the top 4. He’s been an All-Star and Gold Glover for 2 straight years. The Gold Glove makes him #1 defensively in the AL. The All-Star status puts him at least in the top 6, because only 5-6 catchers make the All-Star team. I present facts while you are presenting an unsupported opinion.

  3. Patrick

    February 25, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    The reality is somewhere in between in my opinion. Molina is better in every facet of the game besides maybe a slight nod to Wieters in power. No shame in that, Molina is the best all-around catcher in baseball. What would worry me the most about Wieters is his inability to put the ball in play vs right handed pitching. He hit .235 vs RHP in 2011, and .224 in 2012. You can actually see when you watch him that his bat is not as quick from the left side. I think he settles in at about .270/25/90, which is still awesome production for a catcher.

    • Mark Brown

      February 26, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      I can’t argue with anyone who thinks Posey, Wieters, or Molina is the best in the game. To me they are clearly the top 3. There are arguments for any one of them. Your right when you say it’s awesome catcher production regardless. I’m assuming progression and that he will improve upon all offensive numbers based on his ceiling and minor league history.

  4. spy

    February 26, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I’m still confused about the love affair between MGW and Mark,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,male bonding I guess……………….

    As for Weiters , average catcher all around with decent pop, good for the clubhouse and has positive intangeables,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    • MGW

      February 26, 2013 at 10:54 am

      spy – Hey look, I never say anything about your deal with Chow?!? To each his own. Live and let live. Don’t ask don’t tell.

      Mark offers unobjective insight on baseball, which is my favorite sport. That’s all.

      • MGW

        February 26, 2013 at 10:57 am

        *objective. Sorry about the Faux Paus!

        • Mark Brown

          February 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm

          Spy is the best supporter of everyone on this site.

          • MGW

            February 27, 2013 at 10:01 am

            No sweat…just messing with you!

      • spy

        February 27, 2013 at 9:28 am

        Sorry , I didn’t realize you were that sensitive over your relationship with Mark ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I won’t mention it again,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  5. Aaron

    February 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Joe Mauer didn’t play for Georgia Tech… Did you mean Mark Texeira as a switch hitter?

  6. somedude

    March 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

    This guy cheats in his own fantasy leagues