Matt Wieters was supposed to be the next special Major League hitter, forget about the fact that he was going to be among the elite catchers in the game. Now three years into his career, it’s clear that he has failed to live up to those lofty expectations. Maybe people set the bar a little too high, but it’s hard to classify him as anything other than a disappointment.
That said, in 2011 he finally started to show signs of the hype we all heard so much about. Before we get into the specifics, let’s look at his overall numbers:
500 At Bats
.262 Batting Average (131 Hits)
22 Home Runs
1 Stolen Bases
.328 On Base Percentage
.450 Slugging Percentage
.276 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Overall it was solid, but the power really began to flourish in the second half. In 224 AB he hit 14 HR with 34 RBI. He had 12 of those home runs in the final two months of the season. Granted, it’s possible that the power surge was a little bit of an aberration, especially given his 24.1% HR/FB in September (7 HR). Still, his strong finish shows that the 20+ home run potential is going to be there.
Where he was really supposed to thrive, however, was in the batting average department after he hit .343 in 578 AB in the minor leagues. Then again, what people failed to realize was that it came courtesy of a .343 BABIP. That’s a number that no catcher should be expected to maintain. Just to give you an idea, only three catchers with at least 300 AB in 2011 posted a BABIP of better than .320.
However, that’s not to say that there isn’t room for a significant improvement in the average department. Not only is there room in the BABIP, but he’s improved in the strikeout department each season:
- 2009 – 22.3%
- 2010 – 18.7%
- 2011 – 15.2%
Over his minor league career he posted a 15.3% strikeout rate, so there is a good chance that he maintains his improved mark. If he can keep that type of performance, as well as get a little bit luckier (just to the .300 BABIP range), the results are going to be significantly better.
While most catchers aren’t going to score many runs, if he can continue in the 70-80 range he’s also not going to hurt you there. He spent the most time hitting fifth in ’11 (223 AB), something that I would anticipate continuing into 2012. Therefore, there’s nothing to worry about there.
What that spot in the lineup should do, however, is present him with more opportunities to drive in runs. He thrived with runners in scoring position last season, hitting .321 with 44 RBI in 106 AB. If he spends more time in the middle of the order he is going to get more opportunities with men on base. More chances should mean better results.
You put it all together and get the following projection for 2012:
.282 (141-500), 24 HR, 80 RBI, 70 R, 0 SB, .298 BABIP, .347 OBP, .482 SLG
While these numbers may still pale in comparison to the nearly unreachable hype, they are solid across the board. The real question of if I am going to own him or not is how far he falls in fantasy drafts. These are numbers similar to Brian McCann’s, at a fraction of the cost, meaning he definitely is going to be on my radar. He has the potential to also fully breakout and exceed these numbers, making him that much more appealing.
However, before I can say he should be targeted, we’ll have to wait and see about where he is going in fantasy drafts before fully deciding.
What are your thoughts of Wieters? Is he on your 2012 radar? Why or why not?
Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2012 rankings: