Baseball Prospectus gave us an early look at their predictions for the 2011 season, and there was a lot to like about what they had to say unless your name is Matt Wieters.
The highly-regarded statheads say the Orioles will finish 82-80, giving Baltimore its first summer of winning baseball since the days when Hanson was considered to be good music. But based on PECOTA -- which stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm -- Baseball Prospectus believes that catcher Matt Wieters is poised to be the Orioles' biggest disappointment in 2011.
"While fandom still waits for the soon to be 25-year-old catcher to make good on his terrific minor league numbers, PECOTA has stopped looking for a breakout, calling for a .268/.341/.419 season," wrote Steven Goldman of Baseball Prospectus. "Names like Ryan Doumit and Ryan Garko are starting to show up among his comparables, two too many mediocre Ryans for a future star."
So the kid they called "Joe Mauer with power" is now "Ryan Doumit with a glove?" I don't know about that.
Sure, Wieters took a step backwards a year ago after a solid rookie season. He batted .249 with just 11 home runs and 55 runs batted in and his OPS was .696. He struggled to make good contact with changeups and sliders, and he has yet to consistently hit with power in the major leagues.
Meanwhile, his contemporary, Buster Posey, won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2010 and helped the Giants win the World Series. Now Wieters is no longer the young catcher everyone is raving about.
But the talented, driven and dedicated Wieters is 24 -- he turns 25 in May -- and has just 226 major-league games under his belt. It's way too soon to call him a bust. Or to compare him to Ryan Doumit.
I think with the spotlight focused elsewhere, Wieters will bounce back with a strong season in 2011, especially with skipper Buck Showalter in his corner for a full season.
We'll see who gets this one right: me or the statheads.