2010 In Review: Catchers

Matt Wieters – .249/.319/.377, 37 R, 22 doubles, 1 triple, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 502 PA

Wieters didn’t come close to living up to the expectations the Orioles and most fans had hoped for coming into the season. That seems to be a trend with most of the Oriole hitters this season. He has tremendous power potential but it just didn’t come through this year. He came out of the gate hitting .280 in April but with only three extra base hits. I figured the power would come and he would continue to hit at that rate but he followed April up with back to back miserable months in May (.662 OPS) and June (.606 OPS). He had a great July (.900 OPS) but it was diminished with a stint on the disabled list, costing him 16 games. August (.705 OPS) and September (.749 OPS) showed signs of improvement but it was still way short of his potential (.850+ OPS). On the plus side he showed patience at the plate with 47 walks and has a good approach. His swing just looks long and slow to my untrained eye. Defensively he really came along, only allowing two passed balls all season and throwing out 31% of attempted base stealers. He really seemed to improve his handling of the pitchers and the accuracy of his throws as the season went along.

2011 Prognosis: I’d like to say Wieters is going to break out next year but I’d settle for some consistent improvement at this point. Hes still a rare talent for the position and alot of talent evaluators still believe he’ll reach his potential. Hes got a good handle on the pitching staff and that chemistry should only improve. I could see a season along the lines of .270/.340/.445 with 18-20 homeruns next year for Wieters. I think an OPS under .750 would really start to worry me as the Orioles are relying on him and the rest of the core to develop quickly so we can compete for a playoff spot.

Craig Tatum – .281/.349/.316, 11 R, 4 doubles, 9 RBI, SB, 126 PA

Tatum won the backup catcher job over Chad Moeller in spring training and I think proved that it was the right call over the season. He surprised with the bat and showed a good eye but for such a big guy didn’t display any power. His minor league stats tell you that he probably can’t keep up an average like that but he did good with the time he was given. He was sent to the minors for a month towards the end of the season but came back in September. His strength was thought to be his arm and his defense but he only threw out 7% of runners and didn’t look very comfortable behind the plate.

2011 Prognosis: I’m sure Tatum will compete for the same job he held this year in Spring Training in the spring but I think we can do better. Its not the most important roster spot but he still plays once or twice a week. There are worse choices and I’d give him another shot at it but I’d bring in some competition and make him earn it.

Jake Fox – .220/.257/.440, 10 R, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 105 PA

Fox isn’t technically a catcher but he can do it in a pinch and has added it to his repertoire. Hes a versatile guy that was acquired from the Oakland A’s for minor league pitcher Ross Wolf in the middle of June. A free swinger, hes got alot of power but not much in the way of patience or pitch selection. He played C, LF, 1B, and 3B this year but the reason teams give him chances is his bat. Hes not very good defensively but he has some very good minor league statistics.

2011 Prognosis: Fox is another guy that will most likely get a look in spring training next year for a spot on the bench. He could fill the Ty Wiggington role, backup at third and first base but also able to backup the catcher. If they felt good enough about him defensively behind the plate it could save the O’s a roster spot not having to carry a pure backup catcher. He could be a nice power bat coming off the bench or the Orioles could find someone who better suits our roster next year.


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