As shocking as it may sound, Matt Wieters is getting some love as this season’s sleeper candidate for American League MVP. David Shoenfield of ESPN.com picked Wieters as his number one candidate based on his strong defense and development at the plate.
1. Matt Wieters, C, Orioles. Best MVP finish: 21st in 2012. Wieters’ numbers last year were similar to Santana’s, so a lot of the same things apply to him. He’ll have to hit much better than .249 and drive in 103 instead of 83. At 27 and with three seasons now under his belt, maybe he’ll be one of those catchers who develops late with the bat. His edge compared to Santana is he may be the premier defensive catcher in the AL — he’s won the past two Gold Gloves (not that defense helped Trout a year ago). His second edge is that Orioles are probably a better bet to reach the postseason than the Indians. If Wieters improves with the bat and the Orioles return to the playoffs, his perceived leadership skills help make him a perfect stealth MVP candidate.
Wieters has crushed the ball this spring, hitting .500 (12-for-24), with three home runs, 12 RBI and 7 runs scored.
Adam Jones received an honorable mention in Shoenfield’s piece as well.