Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wieters on the rise

Matt Wieters (.253/.330/.380) still doesn't have great numbers. He only has eight home runs, and for much of this season has seemed like a singles hitter who hasn't taken advantage of his raw power.

But after a decent month of July and three-hit game last night, Wieters's numbers are starting to look better. On July 1, Wieters had a batting line of .238/.308/.343, which is really bad. Since then he's improved his OPS by 60 points (from .650 to .710), though he only hit two home runs in July (both on July 26 against the Blue Jays).

But the strongest sign of Wieters's improvement at the plate seems to be his plate discipline. Sure, it's a small sample size, but since July 1, Wieters has struck out just three times while walking nine times. Considering that in June, for example, he struck out 18 times while walking seven times, that's a solid reversal.

In a post I wrote about Wieters in May, I noted that, despite his struggles, he was still walking more and striking out less. His numbers at the time were: 8.2 BB% and 22.4 K%. Right now, those numbers are even better: 10.1 BB% and 20.5 K%. It sure seems like Wieters has made some necessary adjustments.

Let's see how he's doing in three other trouble areas from before:

1) Hitting the ball hard

May: 16.5 LD%
Now: 17.2 LD%

2) Ground balls

May: 49.6 GB%
Now: 46.1 GB%

3) Fastballs

May: -2.3 runs above average
Now: -5.0 runs above average

To summarize -- again, noting the small sample size -- Wieters has been hitting the ball harder, hitting fewer ground balls, but has still been struggling with fastballs. However, he has been better at hitting curveballs, cutters, sliders, and changeups. He's also been swinging at more pitches in the zone (up to 59.4%).

There's no question that Wieters still has more work to do, especially when it comes to hitting for more power, but he is getting better. It wasn't time to give up on him before, and that's certainly not the case now.

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