Absence will show how great Matt Wieters was


By: Corey Johns

Matt Wieters was nothing close to a bust. The fifth overall pick of the 2007 amateur draft may have never lived up to the expectations he had when he came up with the Orioles, but that was because the expectations were just way to high.

Jesus in Cleats
Mauer with Power
The Switch-Hitting Jesus

Those were some of the nicknames Wieters was given BEFORE HE EVER STEPPED ONTO A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL FIELD.

Within hours of Andy McPhail saying on air during a game that Wieters was going to be called up to the majors a sports news organization blasted out a Hall of Fame plaque with record career numbers while saying he was better than the great Babe Ruth.

Wieters was not a bust, the expectation was just impossible to live up to. Actually, he was a mighty fine ball player who was the best in the league at his position and was a huge reason why the Orioles made a few playoff appearances the past few seasons and just how great of a player he was will be evident in his absence.

Catcher is one of the few positions in baseball where offense is purely a plus. Most catchers will hit in the lower .200 and maybe contribute a couple of home runs and doubles and RBIs. Typically, catchers are hanging around at the back of a team’s lineup. Wieters, meanwhile, was a staple in the meat of the Orioles lineup that hit .256 over his career, would hit 20-plus home runs, 25-plus doubles, and around 60 to 80 RBIs in a season. That’s great production for a position.

But where the four-time All-Star really shined was behind the plate. Despite having just one truly reliable pitcher to ever work – Chris Tillman – and the rest just young and comers or lousy to mediocre journeymen, Wieters called one heck of a game and made the staff better than it was.

That is something that is impossible to quantify with numbers, but when Wieters wasn’t behind the plate it was clear the team wasn’t quite as effective on the mound. Defensively, he was a stud.

Now the Orioles are turning things over to Welington Castillo and Caleb Joseph while they wait for Chance Sisco to develop. Castillo hit .264 with 14 home runs and 68 RBIs in 113 games in 2016, which is very solid offensive production, but we’ll have to wait and see what he can do behind the plate in a batter’s park like Camden Yards.

It’s not to say that Castillo won’t be a good stop-gap player and the Wieters won’t drop off in Washington, anything is possible, but after a few weeks this coming season, it will be clear just how good Wieters was.


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