As the long season wears on, Wieters elevates his game

Matt Wieters is playing a lot behind the plate again this year and carrying a heavy load at the demanding catcher position. But don’t think Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t keeping track of just how much Wieters is on the field.

When asked about Wieters’ solid offensive numbers in August as he continues to play a lot, Showalter had a question for reporters.

“We were looking the other day. If you count from the first day of the season (to now), how many off days do you think he has had, counting rainouts, off days and non-playing days? Just an educated guess,” Showalter said.

When I guessed 30, Showalter pointed out that the answer is 40.

Wieters has started 106 of the Orioles’ 132 games behind the plate this season and he has also made three starts at DH and one at first base. At this pace, he should start 128-130 games catching. That number was 121 last year.

As the long season wears on, Wieters has had a good month at bat, hitting .293 in 23 August games with four homers, 13 RBIs and an OPS of .906.

Wieters has an OPS of .793 since the All-Star break and that figure was .730 after the break for him last year.

Showalter knows Wieters has carried a heavy load catching, but feels he is handling it just fine.

“That being said (that he has had 40 days off), he is also the league leader or in the top five (in catcher innings),” Showalter said. “But he’s 25 years old. Real confident in the time we have given him (off). Most people think 18, 20 (days off). Not to lessen what Matt is doing physically, but if you look at his numbers when he first got to the big leagues and then last year and this year, he’s got a slow incline working there and I’m proud of him for that.

“He’d be the first to tell you there are things he could get better at and he will. But, as far as the workload, not many 6-4, 6-5 catchers out there. You try to look at it in a different light sometime.

“Old scouts did the perfect body for the catcher, what size they are. Matt’s a little different, but he’s doing pretty well. Where he is concerned, you look for certain things you normally wouldn’t look for to show wear and tear, because of his height.”

Showalter said Wieters seems to be stronger at this point in the season than he was at a similar point last year.

“I think so. Sometimes we confuse a guy weighing more with being stronger. But Matt’s done a good job maintaining his weight this year. Last year, it dipped down pretty good,” Showalter said.

During Wieters’ rookie year of 2009, he hit .288 with a slugging percentage of .412 and .753 OPS. Right now, those numbers are .263/.423/.749.

Wieters made the All-Star team this season, is excelling this year on defense and now his offense has come to life during the so-called dog days.

Now it’s time for your take: How do you feel Wieters is holding up at catcher. How do you feel about his offense right now and this season? Is he performing at a high level when you consider his and offense and defense combined?

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