04 July 2011

Cup of jO's (July 4, 2011): All-Star Matt Wieters

Game Recap
Box Score / Play-by-Play / AP Summary

Mark Reynolds homered again and the O's were able to rally past the Braves after coughing up a three run lead in the sixth inning. Zach Britton put together a solid start, and even chipped in with the bat, homering in the third inning. The Birds travel west to Arlington for a 4th of July showdown with Colby Lewis and the Rangers.

Of interest to me...
Of interest to me this morning is Jeff Zrebiec's article in the Baltimore Sun on Matt Wieters's selection to the All-Star game -- what I am sure is to be the first of several future appearances. According to Zrebiec's piece, Wieters leads the Majors in runners caught stealing (22) and is the only backstop yet to allow a pass ball. Wieters's defensive work has been a joy to watch in an otherwise disappointing year for the Birds, and has even made its way to YouTube in highlight real form:

I've clocked Wieters sub-1.9 seconds on pop times to second base throughout the year -- well below the generally accepted average for Major League catchers (around 2.0 seconds). Always in possession of a plus to plus plus arm (he even served as a closer at Georgia Tech, touching the mid-90s off the mound), it is the improvement his footwork and transfer that has allowed him to step up for good catch-and-throw backstop to among the best in the league.

While the Minor League hype surrounding Wieters was centered on his bat, it is his glove and his arm that have helped the young phenom secure his first selection to an American League All-Star squad. Also encouraging is Wieters .315 wOBA, which places him seventh in the Majors among catchers, and his fWAR of 2.0 making him the fourth most valuable catcher in the Majors according to Fangraphs.

I have little doubt that Wieters will continue to grow, offensively. The larger question is how many years the Orioles will be able to pencil him in at the 2-spot before his 6-foot-5 230-pound body starts to react negatively to the grind of a Major League season. The Twins's Joe Mauer is the only comparably sized talent we have with whom to compare Wieters. If his career arc is any indication, the news is good for Baltimore as Mauer was able to stay healthy enough to produce 33.9 fWAR over his under-control years in the Twin Cities. Wieters, of course, has further development to come before he can be counted on as a 6+ fWAR player, year-in and year-out. But 2011 has been a terrific step forward for the former top O's prospect, and his presence as a nightly member of the Baltimore battery can only have positive effects on the young arms on whom the O's depending to shut down the powerful bats of the AL East.

Congrats on the All-Star selection, Matt. Here's to your emergence as one of the top catchers in the game.

1 comment:

LA Bird said...

Wow, what a killer gun. Who runs on this guy?