Friday, January 30, 2009

Community Projections: Matt Wieters

I've seen a lot of articles about Matt Wieters coming out lately. Many are the standard top prospect lists - with Wieters holding the top spot - while others are general of the form "man, that Wieters kid is going to be some player."

I had Wieters projected for 400 PA of .275/.344/.438 ball (which makes him a slightly above average hitter already), but that seems to be the worst anyone thinks he's going to do. When coming up with that line, I gave a lot of weight to his being a catcher (and thus needing more transition time). I'm also not used to the Orioles having such a good prospect - I remember thinking Larry Bigbie was going to be the next Shawn Green (oops).

Wieters is about as complete of a hitter as you can ask for; he hits for average and power (and has a very good batting-eye) from both sides of the plate. He definitely showed that too, putting up (in retrospect) a monster year - .345/.448/.576 in A+ and .365/.460/.625 in AA, with 27 HR and 82 BB to 76 K in 437 combined AB at the age of 22.

There are a lot of players Wieters has drawn comparisons to:

Joe Mauer: At age 20 he hit .335/.397/.412 in A+ and .341/.395/.453 in AA. Mauer was younger, but Wieters had a higher OBP and much more power. Joe hit .294/.372/.411 in his first full year at age 22.

Mike Piazza: At age 23 he hit .377/.441/.658 in AA and .341/.403/.564 in AAA. Maybe give a small OBP advantage to Wieters, but Piazza was a beast and carried that through to the big leagues; .318/.370/.561 with 35 HR.

Mark Teixeira: At age 22 he hit .320/.404/.593 in A+ and .316/.403/.591 in AA. Tex showed a touch more HR power, but Wieters has the edge in BA (and thus SLG) and OBP. Mark hit .259/.331/.480 the following year in the majors. Teixeira is the guy who Wieters should be most like with the bat. Mark Teixeira... as a catcher. Boy the Pirates must be kicking themselves for that one (picking lefty reliever Daniel Moskos #4 overall instead of Wieters).

Average their first-year lines together and you get .290/.358/.484. That would be awfully impressive, but with some seasoning in AAA (which looks like it might last longer than I originally expected) it is conceivable.

So the current projection for Matt Wieters is:

300 78 20 1 10 29 .289 .359 .482 .365

That would have made Wieters the 7th most valuable catcher in baseball last year (in half a season, no less). The NL has Brian McCann (.301/.373/.523 last year), Russell Martin (.280/.385/.396), and Geovany Soto (.285/.364/.504). The AL only had Joe Mauer (.293/.413/.451). And Matt Wieters might be the best one of them all in the not-too-distant future.

1 comment:

Matt Kremnitzer said...

If Wieters ends up anything like Teixeira, Orioles fans are going to be thrilled -- and like you said, that's even better since it's coming from a catcher.

I also like the projections. He might struggle a bit at first, but he's extremely talented and should find success pretty quickly.