Throughout the first half of the 2013 season, many fans and experts began to criticize Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters for having a bad offensive year and rightfully so. Wieters took advantage of the four day All-Star break and has been one of the best offensive catchers in the second half.
Wieters was hitting .232 with 12 home runs, 44 RBI and a .291 OBP in 88 games prior to the All Star break. He was still playing extremely well defensively, but his normal offensive prowess was not there. His bat speed seemed slower than normal, and his pitch selection was lacking as well.
Ever since the break, Matt has been a huge contributor to this Orioles offense. Wieters is hitting .236 in the second half this season, which is not much of an improvement over the first half, but his seven home runs are third most on the team and he has driven in 19 RBI in his 31 games since the break.
Wieters has not just been a high offensive performer for Baltimore, but one of the best among all catchers in baseball since the break. His seven home runs since the break are tied for the most in baseball by a catcher, and his 19 RBI are fourth most.
Not only has his offense improved, but his defense has remained outstanding and is among the league leaders in caught stealing percentage. A third Gold Glove is a serious possibility for Wieters this season.
Matt picked a perfect time to get back on track for the Birds as other players have cooled off since the break, and his ability to return to his offensive form has been huge down the stretch. Along with Wieters, Brian Roberts and JJ Hardy have helped pick up the slack of a struggling Manny Machado, but Manny has shown some signs of turning it around recently, so perhaps the lineup may get a chance to have everyone clicking at the right time.
The good news for the Orioles is that September/October has historically been the best month offensively for Wieters. He has a career .289 average with 18 home runs, 62 RBI and a .362 OBP in 103 career games in September/October. Baltimore will need Wieters, and others, to either stay or get hot as they make their stretch run and attempt to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year after 14 straight losing seasons.
Baltimore will return to action tonight against the AL East leading Boston Red Sox and will send Wei-Yin Chen (7-6) to the mound for the start in a battle of left handers as Boston is sending Felix Doubront (9-6) to the bump. It goes without saying that this is an important series with the division leading Red Sox, but an even more important nine game road trip as they have three games apiece with the Red Sox, New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians.
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