Owning the Baltimore Orioles’ Matt Wieters in fantasy baseball last season, was like waiting for your perpetually late friend to finally show up for dinner. 15 minutes after they are already supposed to be there, you get a text saying they will be there in “5 min.” 45 minutes later, they finally show up. Just take a look at Wieters’ Rotoworld updates prior to finally making his 2015 debut:
December 21, 2014 – “Agent Scott Boras has said that his client, Matt Wieters (elbow), will be ready to play on Opening Day … as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.”
February 28, 2015 – “Everything is trending toward the 28-year-old being ready for Opening Day.”
March 20, 2015 – “Wieters is dealing with some tendinitis in his surgically-repaired right elbow. The Orioles aren’t viewing it as a setback and are still hopeful of him being ready for Opening Day.”
March 21, 2015 – “The Orioles are tentatively targeting a return on April 11, citing this as a precautionary measure rather than a setback in his recovery.”
April 8, 2015 – “The Orioles are going to continue to play it safe with their star catcher, who probably won’t be ready until sometime in early May.”
May 1, 2015 – “A return in late May or early June for Matt Wieters (elbow) ‘seems reasonable.’”
May 10, 2015 – “Wieters continues to rehab in extended spring training and is on track to rejoin the Orioles at some point in June.”
June 5, 2015 – “Wieters will make his season debut on Friday after making his way back from Tommy John surgery.”
You see what I mean? Even after he made his debut, Wieters still dealt with lingering arm soreness all season, and needed to be heavily rested. He never allowed himself to properly heal from his torn UCL, and his playing time and production took a hit as a result. He played in only 75 games, triple-slashing .267/.319/.422, and hitting 8 homers.
The silver lining in all of this, is that his injury-ravaged 2015 makes him an ideal fantasy sleeper for 2016. With a full offseason of rest, and almost two years removed from the surgery, Wieters figures to be fully healthy this upcoming year. His 2015 numbers actually look pretty good considering the circumstances, and were not far off from his career averages. Wieters was also enjoying a strong start to the 2014 season before tearing his UCL, hitting .308/.339/.500, with 5 homers in 104 at-bats. In the three years prior to the injury, he hit 22, 23, and 22 homers, respectively.
All signs point to the 29-year-old Wieters having a bounce back season in 2016. On top of that, he still has the kind of raw talent and ability (he was ranked the #1 overall prospect in all of baseball in 2009), that a late career breakout is not out of the question. For 2016, I will give Wieters the projection of 62/21/75/.270/0, and should easily finish as a top 10 fantasy catcher.
By Michael Halpern