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