December 11, 2012
The Keeper Reaper
Second, Short, and Catcher for 12/11/12
BP Fantasy kicks back into gear today as the football season begins to wane and attentions begin to turn back toward baseball. For the next few weeks, the BP Fantasy team will spend time examining the keeper league value of various players that may be on the fringe of keepability in certain leagues. We know that every keeper league is different, so while we’ll talk in broad strokes, we’re happy to answer questions specific to your league or cover a particular player if you ask nicely :) The analysis, of course, will be focused on each player’s 2013 prospects, so even if you’re not in a keeper league, this should still prove valuable to your draft preparations. We've got some exciting things in the works for the coming season, and I'm happy to be able to kick it off today. —Derek Carty, Fantasy Manager
The final stat line Wieters finished with last season would be considered a resounding success for most catchers, but Wieters isn't most catchers. He has been saddled with hefty expectations since entering professional baseball as a first-round pick and immediate blue chip prospect. In 2011 he surpassed 20 home runs for the first time in his career, and it appeared that may be the opening act to an even grander act last year. Instead, he duplicated his home run production, lost some average, but offset that by tallying more combined runs and RBI.
Perhaps I'm a glutton for punishment—that's the real reason I gave him a “Fringe” endorsement as a Medium keeper instead of "No"—but there is reason to believe his best is yet to come. Wieters has established he can hit more than 20 home runs in a season, having done so in consecutive years. As an integral part of the Orioles lineup, Wieters found himself slotted fourth or fifth for the majority of his at-bats last year. His position in the lineup should lead to run and RBI totals that rank in or near the top five at the position annually.
Where Wieters can really step forward, however, is in batting average. Last year he posted a .249 average, 16 points below his career mark entering the year in spite of posting the best line drive rate of his career. Prior to 2011, the switch-hitting catcher had substantially more success against right-handed pitching. That changed in 2011, and he crushed southpaws while hitting just .235 against right-handed pitching. He continued to beat up on lefties last year and regained his pop against right-handed pitchers, but his batting averaged slipped further, dropping to .224. There wasn't a substantial difference in his batted ball data against each handed pitcher, and any gains he makes against right-handed pitching portend well to a big jump in batting average this year. Maybe Wieters will continue to tease, but he's only 26 years old, and it's not unfathomable that he'll kick it up a notch.