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
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: