2016 Projection: Is Matt Wieters An Ideal Post-Hype Sleeper?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was a bit of a surprise that the Orioles’ Matt Wieters accepted his qualifying offer and, to an extent, it’s a situation that he’s betting on himself and his ability to prove that the past two injured plagued campaigns are behind him.  There’s little doubt that there would be a lot of money on the table should he be able to stay on the field, but just how high is his ceiling?

Let’s take a look at just how good Wieters could be if he stays on the field:

From 2011-2013 Wieters had proven to be a consistent 20+ HR threat and even over the last two seasons, in limited AB, he’s shown the same type of upside (13 HR over 362 AB).  His 281.377 average distance on non-groundballs last season certainly indicates significant power potential, with even more than 20 possible.

Before we point to his home ballpark as a reason for the power, think again:

  • Home – 50 HR
  • Road – 50 HR

Catcher is a position that we can find power from, though last season there were actually just three catchers with at least 200 PA who hit 20+ HR (Brian McCann, Russell Martin & Salvador Perez).  Clearly he has the potential to be one of the elite at the position in this regard.

The switch hitter is a career .258 hitter, though the underlying makeup would indicate more upside in the mark:

  • Strikeouts – 18.8% for his career
  • Line Drive Rate – 19.1% for his career (but he’s been 20.4% or better in three of the past four seasons)

With those numbers we’d think of him more as a .265+ type hitter, which obviously has appeal.  There is a little bit of risk, as his strikeout rate ballooned last season (23.8%), though the missed time easily could’ve contributed to that.  With regular playing time we’d expect him to get back closer to his career mark.

With the uncertainty in regards to Chris Davis and the middle of the Orioles lineup, there’s a good chance that Wieters is hitting somewhere in the #3-6 range.  That obviously puts him in position to produce in both runs and RBI, just adding to his appeal.

.274 (137-500), 24 HR, 75 RBI, 60 R, 1 SB, .300 BABIP, .329 OBP, .478 SLG

Closing Thoughts
Are there questions about his potential production?  Absolutely, but the biggest issue is his health.  If he is on the field for 500 AB there’s little doubt that he’ll reach 20+ HR and there’s every reason to believe that the average will be solid (.260+).  Wieters made the decision to gamble on himself and fantasy owners would be wise to do the same thing.  While the hype surrounding Wieters having likely died down from where it once was, he’s certainly a player you want to target in all formats (especially in two-catcher formats).

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps

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