If you don’t know the name Matt Wieters, you will. No, he’s not the guy that just moved in next door that feeds pigeons, pigeons that then sit around all day on the telephone wires and crap all over your car. Though I do know that guy, and he simultaneously sucks and blows. Matt Wieters is not that guy, he’s the Minor League rookie catcher for the Baltimore Orioles. He’s the rookie catcher that could make a Geovany Soto-like impact on fantasy leagues in 2009. He’s the rookie catcher that is being compared to Mike Piazza and not because Belle and Sebastian wrote a song about him. He’s also the rookie catcher that hasn’t played above Double-A. So why all the hype about Wieters? Can he help your fantasy baseball team in 2009?
In 61 games and 208 at-bats of Double-A, Wieters went 12/51/.365. Zoinks! The numbers get even more delicious the further you dig, rookie prospector. An OBP of .460 — an OPS of 1085. Okay, now that you prolly want to have Wieters’s baby like Arod would carry Madonna’s, time to bring you back to earth. No, Earth is polluted! Sorry, but Mike Piazza and Geovany Soto are the exceptions to the rule for rookie catchers. In 2008, Geovany Soto went 66/23/86/.285. While those are great numbers for a rookie and incredible numbers for a rookie catcher, they are still only 66/23/86/.285. Those numbers only placed him 91st on our player rater while ranking 5th on the top 20 catchers for 2008 list. So what I’m saying is, even the best rookie catchers are only so good for fantasy baseball. Bill James projected Wieters to hit 24 home runs in 2009. You don’t argue with Bill James — you disagree then Bill waves his pinkie finger and you fall to the ground, temporarily paralyzed — but 24 home runs is very optimistic. (In all fairness, James’s numbers do change depending on expected playing time.) If Wieters makes the club out of spring training and he seems to be handling major league pitching, my recommendation is to pursue Wieters as a late round sleeper. But just remember, for every Geovany Soto, there’s always a Saltamochachino.