2011 Projection: Can Matt Wieters Finally Live Up To The Hype?

Matt Wieters was supposed to be the next hot prospect.  He was supposed explode onto the scene in 2009 and follow it up with an amazing 2010 campaign.  Fantasy owners reached for him heading into the 2010 season to make sure they didn’t miss the boat based on what everyone was saying.

Unfortunately, his performance far from lived up to the hype:

446 At Bats
.249 Batting Average (111 Hits)
11 Home Runs
55 RBI
37 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.319 On Base Percentage
.377 Slugging Percentage
.287 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Those numbers just scream special, don’t they?

In all fairness, there was a lot to be excited for from the 2007 first round draft pick.  He hit .343 in his minor league career with 32 HR and 121 RBI in 578 AB spending time in Single, Double & Triple-A.  Now, the question that faces fantasy owners is if we should expect him to rediscover his stroke now that he has a year and a half of Major League experience under his belt.

Of course, what a lot of people ignored was his minor league BABIP marks.  At all three levels they were extremely inflated:

  • Single-A: .374
  • Double-A: .376
  • Triple-A: .352

Could he improve upon his ’10 mark?  Yes, there certainly is room, but it’s not an unreasonable number.

Neither was his 21.1% strikeout rate, considering he was at 21.3% at Triple-A (as well as 20.5% at Single-A).  That means, if he wants to significantly improve his average it is likely going to come from an increase in power.  Is that something that can be expected?  In order to help us, let’s take a look at his HR/AB ratio at each level:

  • Single-A: HR every 15.3 AB
  • Double-A: HR every 17.3 AB
  • Triple-A: HR every 28.2 AB
  • Major Leagues: HR every 40.0 AB

He certainly puts more than enough balls in the air to sustain more power (his career fly ball rate is 38.9%).  With HR/FB marks of 8.4% and 8.0%, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him improve on that mark at 24-years old (he’ll turn 25 in May).

For comparison purposes, here are two players with similar FB%:

  • Chase Utley – 39.0% FB% — 11.2% HR/FB – 16 HR (425 AB)
  • Matt Kemp – 39.3% FB% — 16.2% HR/FB – 28 HR (602 AB)

Obviously we wouldn’t expect any catcher to reach 602 AB, but Utley’s mark could be a realistic level, now that he has his feet wet and plenty of experience.  That would also put him at a HR/AB rate similar to what he showed at Triple-A.

That improvement alone, along with a little more luck, would make Wieters a significantly more attractive option.  Throw in an improved lineup around him, giving him more opportunities for RBI and runs, and there is reason to be optimistic.  When all is said and done we get the following projection for 2011:

.270 (135-500), 19 HR, 75 RBI, 60 R, 1 SB, .313 BABIP, .344 OBP, .438 SLG

Those are solid numbers , but, of course, I wouldn’t recommend going as crazy as we did last season.  However, I wouldn’t shy away from him either.  Catcher is not a deep position and Wieters was hyped for a reason.  He should settle in and be a viable option in all formats.

What are your thoughts of Wieters?  Can he rebound from ’10?  Will he ever reach the expectations people had for him?

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Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections:

 

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9 Responses to 2011 Projection: Can Matt Wieters Finally Live Up To The Hype?

  1. bill says:

    High BABIP in the minors are more likely the sign of a player who is outclassing the league than luck or inflation.

  2. I’m hoping last year brings him to me at a nice discount.

  3. Brock Sampson says:

    In a 5×5 12-team league with 10 keepers and 2 UTIL spots, would you make Wieters, Aramis or Starlin Castro your last keeper?

    The other 9 keeper spots are filled with Pujols, Utley, Zimmerman, J.Upton, Kemp, Ellsbury, Kershaw, Latos, and Haren.

  4. Rotoprofessor says:

    With Zimmerman, I would probably knock Aramis off the list, though he is the highest rated player on my board (though they are all close).

    Do you start a CI?

    I am assuming it’s a one-catcher format as well, which would mean keeping Wieters would be a little less necessary. After the Top 5 catchers, my guess would be that in that type of format, most catchers aren’t going to be kept. That would give you an opportunity to get someone like Wieters, Kurt Suzuki or Geovany Soto on draft day. There’s probably enough options there that you could get one of them.

    That leaves Castro, who may mark the best option. I would have to guess that the top options (Hanley, Tulo, Reyes, Rollins, Andrus, Jeter, Alexei Ramirez) are all likely to be kept? That would mean if you don’t keep Castro you run the risk of settling for someone like Stephen Drew, Jhonny Peralta or rolling the dice on another youngster like Ian Desmond or Alcides Escobar.

    To me, it makes the most sense to keep Castro, though it really depends on the knowledge of the other owners and the exact league setup (is it CI/MI and 1-catcher)?

    • Brock Sampson says:

      C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF, RF, UTIL, UTIL are the offense spots.

      It’s a pretty competitive league. Not necessarily the best brains in the game, but there’s damn sure no weak spots either.

      I’ll have the 4th pick in each round (non-snaking draft), and among the people that will draft before me in the first round, 1 has Jeter, 1 has Andrus, and 1 has Victor Martinez.

      The guy with Victor has the #1 overall pick, and there’s no way Castro or Wieters would be the best choice on his board. And with the other 2 guys already set at SS, I think it’s a damn good bet Castro gets back to me.

      Weiters might be a little more of a risk, but it’s probably a good bet he reaches me too.

      3B is a different story though. Youkilis will be kept, but won’t qualify at 3B for a little while. Reynolds will possibly be kept, but it’s hard to say. Either way, all 3 teams drafting ahead of me will have those same 2 UTIL spots to fill.

      I really wasn’t expecting to come to this conclusion when I started this, but it’s looking like Aramis is the guy that stands the best chance of not reaching me in the draft, which would make him the best choice for the last keeper spot. Castro would be a near-lock to fall to me in the 1st(11th) round, and hopefully I can snag one of the Wieters/Soto/Suzuki group later.

      • Rotoprofessor says:

        That sounds about right given all of the information (not to mention the fact that I have him as the highest ranked player of the three). Given how weak 3B is this year, having that type of depth is also a great thing. If both Ramirez and Zimmerman flourish, you have trade bait. If there’s a struggle, you are protected.

        That’s the way to go I think.

        • Brock Sampson says:

          Yeah, like I said, I was pretty unsure when I started that post. By the time I got done the answer just presented itself.

          Plus there’s almost always some pre-draft wheelings and dealings in this league around the time Spring Training starts. Last year I essentially traded away Kinsler for Kemp before the draft (there were some other people in the deal that I don’t exactly remember, but no one else involved in either direction was keeper-caliber in my eyes).

          Kemp obviously didn’t have the year I was hoping for last year, but since I was dealing from strength, filling a tough-to-fill CF spot, and getting a couple years younger in the process….I still say it was a good deal.

          Hopefully I can pull off another good deal this pre-season. I’ve got some decent bait that I can’t keep….Bumgarner, Aroldis, Carlos Lee, maybe even Strasburg if someone is willing to stash him on the DL all year. If I can catch someone with Young Arm Fever, I might make some magic happen.

          • Rotoprofessor says:

            Actually, someone taking Strasburg in this type of league (I assume you can keep someone indefinitely) wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Obviously you aren’t going to get top dollar for him, but if you have no interest in keeping him and don’t mind not being able to get him make, it doesn’t make sense not to shop him.

  5. Brock Sampson says:

    Yeah, there is no limit on keepers, either by position or by time. I’ve had Utley since ’05.

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