On the surface it sort of looks like Matt Wieters stagnated last year. His home run production stayed about the same and his batting average fell to a disappointing .249, but Wieters’ underlying stats tell a different story.
While his average dropped, his line drive rate increased from 17.7% to 20.4% and his xBA increased from .271 to .285. While Wieters struggled to a .274 BABIP last year, lower than in 2011 with that below average line drive rate, our xBABIP formula suggests he should have had a BABIP around .315.
As for the power, Wieters actually saw his HR/FB rate increase from 13.6% to 15.5%. The problem was that he hit fewer fly balls than at any other point in his career with the Orioles. I’d expect a correction in 2013, and a little more luck could mean a true breakout season is on the horizon.
At a Glance
Strengths: HR, RBI
Neutral: R, BA, OBP, SLG, OPS
Best-case scenario: Buster Posey (SF) with a .290 BA instead of .315-.330
Likely scenario: Miguel Montero (ARI), Carlos Santana (CLE), Nick Swisher (CLE)
Worst-case scenario: Jesus Montero (SEA)
Matt Wieters 2013 Fantasy Projection
I’m very excited about Wieters this season. As with almost every other catcher, he can maintain near-elite status despite contributing in just two or three categories (HR, RBI, BA) because few catchers score runs or steal bases. The fact that Wieters can be average in run scoring makes him worth targeting.
If he can get his fly ball rate back up to 38.0% or higher (like we expect him to), then he has an outside chance at a 30-homer season. Camden Yards is a homer-friendly park, and last year Wieters had a slightly better HR/FB rate on the road than he did at Camden. That means he was either luckier on the road or unluckier at home. If it turns out to be the latter, we could see some surprising pop from the 26-year-old switch hitter.
I’d caution anyone against projecting Wieters for a .285+ average, though. Wieters is a career .210 hitter on grounders, noticeably lower than the league average of .233 since he entered the league. That tells us he’s a bit on the slower side, and his BABIP will probably suffer as a result. Thankfully our xBA and xBABIP formulas already account for player speed, so if he can replicate last year’s line drive, strikeout, and walk rates there’s a good chance Wieters winds up in the .280s, but it’ll take either a modest amount of luck or a noticeable improvement in skill for him to do much better.