Matt Wieters has been playing his tail off behind the plate lately. He's thrown out 4 out of the last 6 runners who've attempted to steal on him. Also, he's been hustling to block balls and has really taken charge with the pitchers.
Buck Showalter said Saturday night Wieters wasn't just throwing out the runners he's supposed to, he made the tough plays as well.
Bench coach and catching instructor Jeff Datz said Wieters 15-day DL stint plus routine days off like Sunday's have given the second year catcher new life in August. He has fresh legs, which may also be helping at the plate. From June 20th-August 8th he leads all major league catchers with a .422 on base percentage and is second in average (.310).
Most importantly, Datz says Wieters is doing a better job of anticipating base stealers. Now, Datz says, Matt assumes all base runners are potential base stealers. Earlier in the season, he might assume a player like Juan Pierre would attempt to steal, but not a Paul Konerko. Now that's changed. He's on his toes more.
Datz told me he liked seeing the way Wieters took charge with Brad Bergesen on Friday night as far as keeping him alert and aware of runners on base. At one point in the game he pointed down to first reminding Bergesen to look at the runner.
One thing Showalter has really focused on since taking over is getting the pitchers to be more aware of holding runners and getting the ball to the plate quicker. To the pitchers' credit, this last turn through the rotation we have seen an improvement which has given Wieters a chance to throw runners out.
The Orioles must be encouraged to see their catcher of the future making strides late in the season, especially after hitting a funk in June and early July.