|Matt Wieters did not have the rookie campaign predicted for him, but that’s no reason to give up hope. (Icon/SMI)|
Last year Matt Wieters entered the season with plenty of hype, and after PECOTA projected a weighted mean of 106/31/100/4/.311 it was an all out blitz for him in just about every league. He was limited by playing time first, but ended up playing in 96 games for the season. His PECOTA comparable also called his No. 1 comp Mark Teixeira. They were both drafted fifth overall in the MLB draft, in 2001 and 2007, respectively. Let’s see after that first season how they still look next to each other.
Wieters didn’t quite have his power going in his first year as he totaled only a .124 ISO. That was much lower than expected after his PECOTA number was .244. I think expecting that much power in his first season and after starting at Triple-A is a lot to ask. Teixeira did not have trouble in his first year, hitting 26 homers with a .221 ISO.
While Teixeira had a quicker start to his career, they had more similarities from their minor league numbers. They each spent a first season split between High-A and Double-A to start their careers with Wieters spending 39 games at Triple-A in his second season. During that first season they totaled the following stat lines.
Teixeria: .318/.413/.592 Wieters: .355/.454/.600
Wieters compiled that line in 530 plate appearances and Teixeira only had 375. That is quite a line for Wieters and gives reason to believe the hype.
At the plate both players have a similar approach.
O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Zone% F-Strike% Wieters 25.4 % 70.2 % 47.1 % 61.2 % 83.7 % 77.5 % 48.5 % 53.0 % Teixeira 23.8 % 74.6 % 49.2 % 37.7 % 87.8 % 75.6 % 49.9 % 57.6 %
This is rookie season numbers for both, and show how close they are in plate discipline and contact skills. Wieters is better in this sample at contact on pitches out of the zone and slightly better in overall contact. They both had walk rates around 7 percent and strikeout rates around 22-24 percent. Obviously Teixeira has had some different numbers since, but in everything but power they were very close in their rookie years.
Heading into 2010, the projections systems don’t like Wieters to reach the second season numbers of Teixeira. The power again seems to be a concern with Bill James giving him the highest SLG at .484 where Teixeira posted a .560 SLG in his second season.
Being only 24 this season Wieters has plenty of improvement headed his way as he continues to grow. Hitting only 20 homers this year would seem to be low for him after the power he showed in the minors. The projection systems seem to weight the rookie season more and place his power closer to the 2009 numbers.
Perhaps the comparison will lose some basis going forward, but the only failing of Wieters in year No. 1 was his power swing. His home park shouldn’t hurt him at all and of course his power will come as he grows. For fantasy purposes this all makes Wieters an extreme value again. He should be one of the top catchers off the board in 2010 and with a comparable like Teixeira it makes sense to value him there.