Matt Wieters: Disappointing At The Plate Despite Skills Behind it
Right now the Orioles are somewhere their fanbase never thought they would be so quickly: relevant. More than just relevant actually. They look like a championship caliber team. The league leaders in home runs, hits, double, and saves are on their team and I'm sure the Boston Red Sox can feel them breathing down their neck for 1st place in the AL East.
Unfortunately, the offensive struggles of one player have become apparent over the last couple months, despite the team's performance around him. I get it....all baseball players struggle from time to time. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm referring to the hype this player received coming out of college and the production he has delivered just don't add up. Ladies and gentlemen.......Matt Wieters is struggling at the plate and I don't think it's temporary. Through 241 at bats he has a .237 batting average, despite the protect he now has in this potent Orioles lineup. If I was the Baltimore front office I would slightly concerned at this point.
There is no denying Wieter's skills behind the plate. So far this season he is throwing out 50% of all would-be base stealers and he'll likely represent the American League in the All-Star Game next month. While I think Wieters is a decent hitter ( I would never be shocked if/when he hit his next walk-off homer) watching him doesn't give me confidence that he will become the hitting machine that he was touted as when the Orioles drafted him. Remember "Mauer With Power" or "Baseball Jesus"? It's safe to say those folks were overhyping the Georgia Tech product.
Please note: When I (or any sports blogger) mentions a player's weakness or struggles it's not because we dislike that player. Far from it. I would love for Wieters to be a .300 hitter with 30 homers a year.
Wieters main flaw at the plate: lack of bat speed. He's got the power and can seemingly hit the ball to all fields. It just appears from a fan perspective that his swing is too slow for major league pitchers sometimes.
The million dollar question is......when Wieters becomes a free agent after the 2015 season should the Orioles consider giving him a deal worth $20 million a year like Joe Mauer and Buster Posey got? You know his agent, the ultimate sleazeball Scott Boras, will get a deal like that from some team desperate for catching help. I'm pretty sure Chris Davis becomes a free agent at the same time by the way so that's another player that will require a big money contract.
Wieters is a stud behind the plate but what happens when he's on the wrong side of 30 and his knees force him to make a permanent move to 1st base? Unfortunately he just doesn't have the hitting ability yet to make me comfortable with that scenario. The Ravens are successful because they pay players for what they have the potential to do, not to reward them for past success. Overall, Matt Wieters is one of the best catchers in baseball right now but his lack of offensive production would make me examine more cost-effective options if I was the Orioles general manager when 2015 rolls around.