Matt Wieters would be the first to admit that his 2017 offensive numbers were not close to where he wanted them to be.
Unfortunately, his first season outside of the American League was his worst with the bat in his nine big league seasons.
Wieters hit .225 in 2017, a year after hitting .243 with the Orioles.
In April, he started off hot, hitting .301. Steadily, though, he saw his average drop each month as the season progressed: .247, .202, .230, .213, .118. Wieters had seven homers before the All-Star break and only three after mid-July.
So what changes will he make in 2018?
He already has made a few. The biggest one is having a better dietary plan and coming in a weight closer to his rookie season than his age-31 version.
“I do feel good,” Wieters said with a smile at Sunday’s Nationals Winterfest. “I tried to clean up some eating habits and I actually got to my workout plan a little earlier this year than even I would before the injuries in the past have kind of slowed me down. So I feel good. I do feel like cleaning up the diet a little bit has made me feel a lot better. I don’t know about 10 years, but I do feel a little younger.”
Wieters came in around 225 lbs. as a rookie in 2009 with the Orioles. He doesn’t want to get back to that level but certainly wouldn’t mind approaching that level.
“The weight loss part of it, it’s not the main part, but early in my career I was about 225 and I felt good playing at that. But as my career went on, I was able to get up to 235 and I felt good playing at that weight,” he said. “But I’m kind of trying to take it back a bit to where I’m getting closer to that 225 goal as opposed to 235 that I’ve been playing at the last four or five years.”
Wieters admitted he won’t go full vegan like Jayson Werth did, but he does see the value in eating properly.
“I think Werth’s eating habits were a little stricter than mine are, but it’s just more about being aware of the calories that are going in and which calories are giving you good calories as opposed to energy that’s not going to be there,” Wieters said.
And as far as picking up his player option for 2018, Wieters wanted to because he appreciates the value in playing for a team that has a shot at winning the World Series this season. The option triggered at $10.5 million for 2018, wrapping up the two-year, $21 million deal he signed in late February.
“I knew from really the moment I signed the deal, that this was a time in my career where I wanted to be on a team that had a chance to win,” Wieters said. “And as a catcher, I wanted to stay at a place where I could continue to improve and feel comfortable with. And I was excited when I signed it. And, really, from the start of the offseason last year, I thought D.C. would be a good place and it didn’t take long to think about picking it up that’s for sure.”
The biggest offseason news surrounding Wieters past his re-up with the Nationals is the possibility the club will lessen his workload to help his overall numbers at the plate and his endurance for late-season starts.
But that is news to Wieters. He said no one has come to him and told him he would play less than the 123 games he worked in 2017. Instead, Wieters would like to flip that script and play more.
“I’m trying to go the other way, where I’m trying to get in better shape and even better to where I can catch more,” he said. “I like being behind the plate. It’s tough for me going into the season where 120, 130 (games) isn’t the goal for me.
“At the same time, whatever is going to be best for the team and best for how I’m feeling. I’m excited because I do feel like ... with Pedro (Severino) back there, we have the ability to if I need a day off, I can get it. We’ll see what that plan is like moving forward. My goal now is to come in as good of shape as I can and catch 130 if I need to.”