• Apr

    Is this the Wieters we’ve been waiting for?

    Is this the Wieters we’ve been waiting for?

    After an 0-for-3 on April 10th against Texas, Matt Wieters’ season OPS sat at .507. He had just one extra base hit and didn’t appear to be hitting anything with authority. A thread was started by Hangout poster Greg Pappas called “Fixing Wieters swing” in which most posters were starting to contemplate, and some had even concluded, that Wieters was never going to be an impact bat at the major league level.

    In fact, one long time Hangout poster made this post:

    “Wieters is what he is. Some guys show the tools to get better. Face it, Wieters..

    1. Doesn't have a powerful swing
    2. Doesn't read offspeed pitches well
    3. Doesn't have the great eye he was thought to have had (likely A and AA pitchers feared him and pitched him a lot more carefully than ML pitchers have had to.
    4. Wieters makes his most consistent contact to the opposite field from either side of the plate.
    5. Wieters does have a slow bat which is why I have no cofidence in him when he comes to the plate and no confidence in him becoming a star. Earlier this winter I thought he might still turn into a consistent .800 OPS type of hitter. That would be his high point but I'm not confident he ever hits that mark over a full season.”

    Some other comments from posters:

    “Unfortunately he's a bust.”

    “He is what he is. He'll be lucky to hit .250, I doubt he ever hits 20 homers with that slow bat. In fact, I even doubt he hits much more than 15. That might be better than the average catcher and that's nice. But he was expected to be far better. And to me, that's a disappointment.”

    It was then pointed out about how poor a hitter he’s been over his career when he gets behind I the count.

    Hangout poster nadecir pointed out:

    When Wieters is ahead in the count, he has a career OPS of 1.051.
    When Wieters is even in the count, he has a career OPS of .677.
    When Wieters is behind in the count, he has a career OPS of .373

    To Wieters’ credit, he went to work by studying film along with hitting coach Jim Presley and they found he was crouching a bit more now than he was previously.  That led me to say the following,”The one constant with Matt Wieters from every angle is how hard he works at getting better. I think that will be a driving factor in Wieters becoming one of the best catchers in the AL one day, perhaps soon. Regardless, it's good to hear about working on some things and finding something in his stance, but I'll need to see some sustained success before getting too excited. Last night, Wieters was fun to watch, no doubt. Let's hope there is a bunch more nights like this ahead.”

    Over the last seven games since then, Wieters has woken up at the plate going 7-for-22 (.318) but more importantly he’s hit two doubles and three home runs and put up a 1.218 OPS.  His power seems to come when he’s more aggressive at the plate. Despite the fact that he’s actually seen slightly more pitches per plate appearance (3.88) during this seven game span then before (3.68) , four of his five extra base hits have come when he’s seen four or less pitches. In fact, when you add in his double during the first 8-game stretch, five of his six extra base hits were in at bats in which he saw four or less pitches.

    This data might suggest that Wieters is actually one of the batters that might be better off being more aggressive. Although a very small sample size (13 PAs), Wieters has just one hit (.237 OPS) this year when he puts the ball in play while behind in the count, but a 1.672 OPS (17 PAs) when ahead. He’s also gone 2-for-6 with a home run when he swings at the first pitch.

    All of these are small sample sizes, but when looked at in conjunction to his career numbers, Wieters just might be a guy who should use Terry Crowley’s  philosophy of hitting the first good pitch you see because you might not see another one.  With hitters like Derrek Lee, Mark Reynold and J.J. Hardy (once he returns) in the lineup, there’s enough batters that work counts and that could free up Wieters to be more aggressive. This hopefully will allow him to continue to hit like the batter the Orioles envisioned when he tore up the minor leagues.

    Now I know some of you (and I pretty much know EXACTLY who) are going to scream “small sample size” and you are right, but at the end of the day, the more upright stance might certainly be part of his refound success, but the numbers suggest being aggressive (not Vlad Guerrero aggressive) might be a better style for Wieters in the long run.

    It might mean more strikeouts and less walks, but if that in turns means more power, I think the Orioles would take that trade-off.

    By the way, Wieters’s current pace over a 162 game schedule:

    32 doubles, 32 home runs, 118 RBI, 54 BB, 86 K, .833 OPS.


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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.