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AL Rookie of the Year: Not Matt Wieters?

We’re happy to introduce Jack Moore as our newest addition to the FanGraphs team. We think you’ll enjoy his contributions here.

October is upon us, and most of our attention is upon the eight playoff teams vying for the Commissioner’s Trophy. However, there are 22 other teams, and there are some notable stories and players from these teams as well.

One of the main stories entering the season was the impending arrival of catcher and savior of the world Matt Wieters. The Orioles delayed Wieters service clock and then called him up this May after amassing a minor league career OPS of over 1.000. Wieters is a switch hitter with impressive power and by all scouting accounts is a plus defensive catcher. Plus, he can steal home from first base.

PECOTA projected Wieters to be an 8 win player this year, which some considered to be a dubious claim, even by WARP3’s questionable calculation of replacment level. CHONE was slightly pessimistic, pegging Wieters as a 3 win player. Wieters did not meet either of those projections. Wieters only accrued 385 PAs this season, and in that span he put up nearly 2 wins. Among AL rookies, this number is overshadowed by the likes of Brett Anderson and Elvis Andrus. Still, this is a number that any organization could appreciate out of a rookie. But this is Matt Wieters, who once hit home runs in AA and AAA… at the same time.

Wieters’ wOBA dropped to .330 this year, a substantial drop from his AAA line of .391 and his low-minors numbrs which ranged from .440 and .490. Both his IsoP and his walk numbers plummeted upon reaching the show. A human .124 ISO and 7.3% walk rate led to a nearly exactly average season at the plate for Wieters. As a catcher, an average hitting season ranks as the 12th best season out of a catcher this year, certainly acceptable out of a rookie, despite the fact that this rookie snacks on batting donuts.

The Orioles have no reason to be alarmed. Wieters still projects to be a fantastic player going forward. Although his 2009 numbers may be sobering, they are only 385 plate appearances. We still have roughly 700 incredible minor league plate appearances to judge him on, and they don’t magically disappear now that he’s in the big leagues. Any player that puts up .440+ wOBAs in the minors and then hits like an average major leaguer in his first season at the age of 23, all while playing catcher, is worthy of accolades and is one of the biggest assets a major league organization could hope for.

Even if he can’t cure world hunger by flexing his left bicep.