Matt Wieters: An Early 2010 Projection

Matt Wieters was one of the most anticipated players heading into 2009, with fantasy owners waiting with bated breath for him to make his presence felt.  Of course, the results fell short of the lofty expectations, being kept in the minors until May 29 before being recalled and posting the following line:

354 At Bats
.288 Batting Average (102 Hits)
9 Home Runs
43 RBI
35 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.340 On Base Percentage
.412 Slugging Percentage
.359 Batting Average on Balls in Play

With those numbers in the book and the talent still prevalent, what can we expect from him in 2010?

Before I get into my projections, please keep in mind that these are extremely preliminary numbers.  I will be adjusting them throughout the offseason, depending on multiple factors.

The Average:
While everyone wants to point to his minor league career average of .341 and expect him to be able to repeat that in the major leagues, there are definitive red flags.  That’s not to say that he is not going to be able to hit for a solid average in 2010, but I would not enter the season expecting him to post numbers reasonably close to that.

His minor league average came courtesy of a BABIP of .375, a completely unrealistic number.  While he was able to post a similarly high number last season at the major league level, it is just ill-advised to be expected to continue.  Only one catcher (Joe Mauer) with more than 450 at bats last season had a BABIP of .329 or better.

Secondly, the strikeout rate.  When you look at his 2009 campaign and see 24.3% rate compared to his 18.43% minor league career mark, it is easy to scream aberration.  Unfortunately, at two of his career minor league stops, he was above 20%, including a 21.3% mark in 141 Triple-A at bats.  While he should improve a bit, a decrease in luck and that many strikeouts is going to make it nearly impossible to maintain an elite level average.

The Power:
Last season he posted nine home runs, courtesy of a flyball rate of nearly 40%.  That was slightly higher than his minor league career mark of 34.2%, but at 23-years old, it is not unreasonable to consider that he could be adding power to his repertoire.

With a HR/FB rate of 8.4%, there certainly is room for him to continue to grow and hit the long ball.  While I wouldn’t expect an explosion to the 30 HR mark, breaking the 20 HR barrier is quite likely.

Run Production:
It’s really too early to tell how the Orioles line-up is going to be built and where he is going to fit into the mix.  Catchers and runs scored, however, are not terms that are synonymous with each other.  As long as he can get into the 65-70 range, which he should, he is not going to be a hindrance to your team there.

As far as RBI goes, he proved last season that he has the ability when given the opportunity.  He’s going to be an asset here, with just six catchers exceeding 80 RBI in 2009.  That’s right around the area I’d expect him to reach, especially if he finds himself in the fifth or sixth hole in the line-up.

The Projection:
.280 (147-525), 20 HR, 85 RBI, 70 R, 0 SB, .322 BABIP, .353 OBP, .463 SLG

Parting Thoughts:
I’m sure these numbers are little bit more conservative than many would like to see, but you have to be a little cautious with Wieters.  It’s not that he doesn’t have the talent, because we all know he does, but there are some warning signs that he has to prove he can overcome before you should expect elite numbers.  As it is, these projections likely would put him among the Top 7 catchers in the league, which goes along with expectations.

What do you think of these early projections?  Are they reasonable?  Are you expecting significantly better or worse numbers?

To read the previous article, click here.

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

7 comments

  1. I’m like you and think he’ll have a solid year, but probably not one that will live up to his draft position. I doubt I will own him in any leagues next year because someone will take him before I’m willing to.

    I think your numbers are very reasonable.

  2. Dave says:

    Reasonable projections. I think he’ll hit for a slightly better avg. in the low .290′s, but these seem fair.

    My question is, with these numbers, why did you have him ranked 8th among catchers for 2010? There are not seven other C’s that are going to beat those numbers. This is basically what McCann did last year, and he’s ranked #2.

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    Dave, keep in mind that the rankings were extremely preliminary and the plan was to update them throughout the offseason as news comes and I get all of my projections done. I would anticipate this projection to move him up a few notches in the rankings next time around.

  4. Jimmy says:

    We can’t forget that the Orioles slotted him in the bottom part of the order to begin the season, so his RBI numbers will automatically be a bit lower. By the end of the year (granted because of some injuries), Wieters was moved to the middle of the order. Wieters was excellent in September, .362 BA/3HR/14RBI, so owners have to hope it’s Wieters showing his true colors.

  5. Gavin says:

    What kind of stat line do you think would be optimistic for Wieters in 2010? Also, do you think in a couple years he could be better than Mauer?

  6. Rotoprofessor says:

    Gavin, is it possible that he’s better than Mauer? Possibly, but only if Mauer does regress in the power department. If he’s in the 15-20 range, it’s def. possible Wieters surpasses him, but it’s a long-shot.

    An optimistic line for Wieters? .320, 28 HR, 100 RBI, 90 R. I’d say that’s pretty optimistic and probably his ceiling for 2010. What does everyone else think?

  7. Justin says:

    Those are VERY optimistic numbers. But obviously possible because if he proves himself then he’ll be moved up in the order. And if he is batting near Nick Markakis then his RBIs or Runs (depending on if he is in front of him or behind him) will definitely go up. I would love for him to have those numbers! It would certainly help my fantasy team.

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