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Matt Wieters: Ready For a Breakout in 2012?

Back in early March, I ranked Orioles catcher Matt Wieters as my #8 fantasy catcher for 2011, and here is what I wrote about him in my preseason Fantasy Catcher Rankings:

8. Matt Wieters, BAL-is 2011 the year where we finally see the real breakout season from Weiters? He hit .249-.319-.377 with 11 HRs and 55 RBIs in 2010. I think the Orioles as a team will improve with Buck Showalter as their manager, and Wieters could be a catalyst.

I should have included a projection for 2011, but did not, so that won't happen again. I will include projections for every player I rank for 2012.

Ever since Wieters was named the #1 prospect in baseball by Baseball America heading into the 2009 season, Wieters has had lofty expectations. If I remember correctly, Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projection system projected him to hit 30 HRs in his rookie season. Say what? That was a huge projection for a rookie catcher for sure, but he has failed to live up to his high expectations thus far in his short major league career.

Wieters had a decent performance in his rookie season, hitting .288-.340-.412 with 9 HRs, 35 runs and 43 RBI in 354 at bats. His triple slash line was aided by a .356 BABIP, and the power he displayed in the minors had not translated as PECOTA had projected as his ISO was just .124.

More on Wieters after the jump:

In his second year in the big leagues, he struggled at the plate, as his BABIP dropped to just .287 from .356 in 2009. He hit .249-.319-.377 with 11 HRs, 55 RBI and 37 runs scored in 446 at bats. Again, the big time power had yet to appear as his ISO flatlined to just .128 from .124 in 2009. But, there were a few positives to take away from his sophomore season as he reduced his K rate from 22.3% to 18.7%, and increased his BB rate from 7.3% to 9.4%. One just has to look at the drop in his line drive rate from 18.5% to 15.4% in 2010 to explain the drop in his BABIP and triple slash line.

Coming into the 2011 season, many fantasy owners were probably wondering if this would be the year Wieters would break out. I was not one of them, but felt that he could improve upon his 2010 season, and that he did. Thus far, he is hitting .260-.321-.429 with 17 HRs, 58 RBI and 60 runs scored. Wieters has shown several positive signs at the plate this season, including the second straight drop in K rate to 15.7% and an increase his in isolated power (ISO) to .169.

Wieters line drive rate has improved from 15.4% to 17.6% and his HR/FB rate increased from 8.0% to 11.8% this season, even with his fly ball rate staying constant at around 38%. So he is starting to display the power we all expected from him this season.

So what can fantasy owners expect from Wieters in 2012? I am calling for a breakout season for Wieters in 2012, and see him approaching 25 HRs and 80 RBI with a triple slash line of .275-.350-.460.