By R.J. Anderson //
To say Matt Wieters may have been a tad bit overhyped is more than fair at this point in the catcher’s career. Through the first 637 plate appearance of his career, Wieters slash line is a paltry .264/.322/.384. For the sake of comparison, Jason Kendall’s career line is .289/.367/.380. That’s counting some excellent seasons earlier in his career…but, still.
Everything about Wieters screams that he should be performing better than last year. His walk rate has increased nearly a full percentage point (from 7.3% to 8.1%), his strikeouts have declined (from 24.3% to 22.9%), and his ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average, an indicator of power hitting) has remained nearly the same (.124 to .115).
The elephant in the elevator is Wieters’ batting average on balls in play and batted ball profile. He’s hitting more groundballs than last year (roughly 5% more; or 47% total) and yet his BABIP has dropped nearly .100 points, to less .269 (league average is typically around .300).
Generally, putting the ball on the ground means more singles and fewer extra-base hits. Yet, that doesn’t always hold true when the batter isn’t fast enough to beat out close plays for infield hits. Wieters has all of four career infield hits; that lack of speed, combined with an unhealthy dose of poor luck, have been the culprits.
The reality of the situation is that Wieters’ hype has caused fantasy owners to hold on a little longer than they should. In keeper leagues, he’s well worth a hold.
But standard 12-team mixed league owners can probably find better options elsewhere. To name two: Angels’ catcher Mike Napoli’s already reached double-digit home runs, and Miguel Montero recently returned for the Diamondbacks and is mashing, while hitting in the middle of the Arizona lineup.
For more on Matt Wieters and other catchers, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.