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Weiters aims to end season strongly

By – Danny Ferrara

Despite having another losing season, the Baltimore Orioles can view the progression of their young catcher as a very good sign. The solid year that Matt Wieters has put together is a positive step in the right direction for the organization.

In 2010 Wieters hit .249 with 11 HR and 55 RBI. After playing nearly 100 games after being called up in 2009 and putting together excellent numbers in a short period of time, his 2010 campaign was viewed as a step backwards. Wieters regressed and dropped his batting average by 39 points, disappointing everyone who thought he would break out. You wouldn’t exactly label his 2011 season a breakout either, mainly because Wieters’ numbers aren’t where they were expected to be. While his statistics for this season are much better than those in 2010, they are still not where they should be.

This season, Wieters is hitting .261 with 20 HR and 63 RBI. While his power numbers are solid for a catcher in a mediocre lineup, his batting average should be higher. In two seasons in the minor leagues, Wieters was a .343 hitter, and while you certainly can not expect this average to translate to the major leagues, you would still like to see him hit somewhere in the neighborhood of .300. A year after clocking an on-base percentage of .319, Wieters has a .324 on base percentage, far lower than average. The Orioles as a team rank 22nd in the league in terms of on-base percentage, with a .314 percentage as a collective unit.

Baseball America ranked Wieters the #12 prospect in baseball prior to the 2008 season and the #1 prospect prior to the 2009 season. After being voted the best prospect in all of baseball, do you think that Wieters’ pro statistics have backed up that ranking? Certainly someone as highly touted as Wieters is should be excelling at the pro level, not just batting to a mediocre average and reaching base at a poor percentage. At this point in time, Wieters has almost double the amount of strikeouts to walks, just as he did last season. In 2010, Wieters struck out 94 times and walked only 47, and he currently has 81 punch-outs compared to just 42 walks.

Although he hasn’t exactly put together a monster season, Wieters is looking to finish his campaign strongly. He has hit 12 HR since the all-star break, second most for catchers in that time span behind Mike Napoli. In the last month, Wieters has had some pop in his bat, launching 9 home runs, most by a catcher in that time period. His batting average during that time has been .292, much closer to where it should be.

If Wieters can finish his 2011 season with a bang, then there will be much to be excited about if you are a fan of the Orioles or a member of the organization. Finally their best prospect is showing signs of performing big time on the big stage, which is very promising for Baltimore.

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