Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 1/2/14
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It’s seems like such a long time ago when we all viewed Matt Wieters as an up-and-coming catcher with the prospects of putting up perennial .300/30/100 seasons. Yes, that was a real thing. Now he’s in his fifth season and coming off a career-worst campaign in 2013. At this point, we should know what Wieters brings to the table. The good news is he will play 140 games (not a lot of catchers do that), which allows him to rank among the position leaders in all counting categories (R, HR, RBI). This is great for fantasy baseball purposes. However, his skills — or lack thereof — at the plate have greatly failed him, culminating in a career low .235 BA and .287 OBP last year. The main culprit of Wieters’ struggles at the plate was his inability to hit right-handed pitching. While he’s been extremely successful against lefties (career .281/.344/.487) he’s a career .244/.309/.393 hitter against righties. In fact, his struggles have been even worst of late, which could explain his recent dip in batting average. Here’s a breakdown of Wieters’ stats vs. right-handed pitching: Year BB% K% BA OBP OPS 2010 11.3 15.9 .265 .347 .744 2011 6.9 12.6 .235 .291 .662 2012 9.7 17.9 .224 .303 .715 2013 7.7 16.2 .214 .270 .628 Wieters has stuggled more against right-handed pitchers of late. At A Glance Strengths: HR, 2B Neutral: RBI, SLG, OPS, K Weaknesses: R, SB, BA, OBP, BB, 3B Players With Similar Fantasy Value Colby Rasmus Jedd Gyorko Justin Smoak 2014 Fantasy Baseball Projection 2014 Projection: 580 PA, .255 BA, 65 R, 23 HR, 76 RBI, 2 SB Overall Rank: 195 | C Rank: 10 Wieters is still a borderline top 10 catcher thanks to the counting stats, but whether he can creep up the list will be solely dependent on whether he can drive up his batting average. It would be great if you could roster two catchers and just platoon Wieters against left-handed pitching, but carrying a second catcher is usually a wasted roster spot and a losing strategy in standard fantasy leagues. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to stop thinking, “This could be the year he breaks out.” That being said, we expect a slight bounce back for Wieters in 2014. He’s slated to bat fifth in what has become a good lineup in Baltimore, and Wieters has managed to stay generally healthy so he should have no problem racking up the counting stats once again. What’s uncertain is whether Wieters will go back to being a .250-.260 hitter or stay in the sub-.250 range. His improvement is contingent upon two things: Hitting fewer fly balls (43.9% last year up from 35.5%) Being more patient at the plate (7.4 BB% was career low) It seems that Wieters went for some added power in 2013 as he got more aggressive at the plate and flipped his GB/FB ratio from over 1.00 to sub-1.00 for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, he also paired his career-high FB rate with a career-high 11.1 IFFB%. These extra fly balls are batting average killers, so it comes as no shock that he only managed to hit .235 last year. Wieters is still a borderline top 10 catcher thanks to the counting stats, but whether he can creep up the list will be solely dependent on whether he can drive up his batting average.
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