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Monday, January 20, 2020

Cardinals sign Matt Wieters to one-year, $2 million deal

Jon Heyman reports that the Cardinals and free agent catcher Matt Wieters have agreed on a one-year, $2 million deal. Wieters can earn an additional $1 million through incentives.

 

QLE Posted: January 20, 2020 at 12:26 AM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardlinals, contracts, matt wieters

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   1. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: January 20, 2020 at 07:05 AM (#5917505)
Remember how we used to joke around here about how Matt Weiters was the Second Coming (especially after he slashed 355/454/600 his first year in the minors)? Well, he's actually had a good little career: injuries, yes, and he never really made the grade as a big-league hitter (93 OPS+), but he's an excellent defensive catcher (two GG, and 10.8 dWAR, fourth-best among catchers 2009-19) and has played in four ASGs. And he'll pass 1,000 hits this year and probably 150 HR (he needs four). Not Johnny Bench, but not bad at all.
   2. jingoist Posted: January 20, 2020 at 09:11 AM (#5917511)
Not bad at all indeed.
He, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones were the guts of Buck Showwalters Oriole teams for many years.
Now all 3 are dispersed like grains of wheat in the wind and the O’s are left to grapple with a bad hand they dealt to themselves.
What a far cry for the ‘60 s to 90’s O’s teams that did it “the Oriole way”
   3. flournoy Posted: January 20, 2020 at 09:19 AM (#5917513)
Not bad for a guy I still remember as a closer.
   4. Adam Starblind Posted: January 20, 2020 at 10:30 AM (#5917522)
If I remember correctly, he became a BBTF meme because ZIPS projected his rookie year as something along the lines of late-stage Barry Bonds.
   5. RJ in TO Posted: January 20, 2020 at 10:40 AM (#5917529)
If I remember correctly, he became a BBTF meme because ZIPS projected his rookie year as something along the lines of late-stage Barry Bonds.
It was his PECOTA, which called for a line of 311/.395/.544, and here's a dissection of why it was so wrong.
   6. RJ in TO Posted: January 20, 2020 at 10:54 AM (#5917536)
Also, PASTE gets credit for the "There were no survivors" line in the article linked above.
   7. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 20, 2020 at 12:13 PM (#5917562)
He, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones were the guts of Buck Showwalters Oriole teams for many years.
Now all 3 are dispersed like grains of wheat in the wind and the O’s are left to grapple with a bad hand they dealt to themselves.
What a far cry for the ‘60 s to 90’s O’s teams that did it “the Oriole way”
Are you saying they should have kept Markakis, Jones and Wieters through their declines until they retired as Orioles Until the End, like those great Oriole Way teams did with Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Mark Belanger, Dave McNally, Paul Blair, Eddie Murray et al?
   8. Scott Lange Posted: January 20, 2020 at 12:24 PM (#5917563)
It was his PECOTA, which called for a line of 311/.395/.544, and here's a dissection of why it was so wrong.


The article makes a convincing case that BP's translations for the two minor leagues he played in were bad, but there's nothing about why they were so bad. Did BP (or anyone else) ever figure that out? Not that it matters much now, probably...
   9. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: January 20, 2020 at 03:49 PM (#5917607)
From the thread in #5, Dan Lee:
I loved the top comps: Alex Gordon and Ben Grieve
Grieve was a really good MLB hitter at 22 and Gordon was great at AA that year. But the Gordon comp especially doesn't make much sense if PECOTA really thought that Wieters was going to be a megastar. The interesting thing is that you can sort of see Wieters's career as having mirrored Gordon's, except that Gordon had a couple of late 20s outlier seasons with the bat, while Wieters spent that part of his career with elbow problems and then Tommy John surgery. IOW, Wieters is Gordon plus the strains of playing catcher. So by that logic, the comp was fine but divorced from a nutty projection.

Joyful Calculus Instructor:
Zips projects Wieters for .291 .361 .467
It turns out this was still too optimistic, but at least it's realistic. That would've been a great line for a good fielding rookie catcher.

   10. Walt Davis Posted: January 20, 2020 at 04:11 PM (#5917617)
#8: No idea. It is interesting though. At A+ Frederick, he put up a 1024 OPS. But the next highest on the team was 848, nobody else topped 800 and the team as a whole posted a 709. So it's not like it was widespread crazy PCL numbers, he totally dominated his team. The league as a whole posted a 727. And the #2 guy was Brandon Snyder who was nothing special but did make the majors for a couple hundred PAs over parts of 6 seasons so a solid AAAA player.

The other half of that season was spent at AA Bowie. This one was more a hitter's haven. Wieters again #1 at 1085 but Luis Montanez at 986, Steve Torrealba at 908 and Nolan Reimold at 868 were putting up excellent numbers. But each of those guys made the majors too (Torrealba barely) and they were all older than Wieters. The team as a whole was at 772 which is pretty high, leading the league (741). That's less impressive but Reimold did put up a couple of good-hitting seasons in the majors and the other two were pretty solid AAAA players. Cs who can easily out-hit AAAA OFs at 22 are usually quite valuable ... but not Piazza.

After that projection, Wieters went to AAA Norfolk. He put up a solid 890 OPS with a 305 BA on a 719 team but he was out-hit (in equivalent PA) by Reimold and Oscar Salazar and the same as Jeff Fiorentino, again a collection of older solid AAA types. (Salazar has a career 112 OPS+ in 400+ PA.) But this was not a dominant offensive performance, probably more along the lines of what you'd expect from a guy who could put up about a 100 OPS+.

Anyway, Wieters is over 18 WAR, 3 WAA for his career and was still producing at about a league-average rate as a back-up last year (let's not discuss his 2017) so might make it to 20 WAR. Aslo $60 M (+ signing bonus) in his career.

And yes, that's Luis Montanez, former Cubs 1st rounder, #3 overall, made BA's top 100 at 19 and immediately started to struggle. Kind of the original Javy in terms of what we thought we were getting. I never realized he did eventually make the majors and play bits of 4 seasons.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: January 20, 2020 at 04:15 PM (#5917619)
Gordon was a big-time prospect and folks seemed genuinely surprised when he struggled early. Pre-2007 (age 23), he was #1 at BPro and #2 at BA. Comping Wieters to Gordon at that age was a big compliment in projection land.

EDIT: Also worth noting that pre-2008, before his big A+-AA season, Wieters was already #12 at both BA and BPro. After 2008, he was #1 at both. They were probably more rational than PECOTA's projection but they were high on him from the start and over the moon too by 2009.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: January 20, 2020 at 04:24 PM (#5917624)
The article makes a convincing case that BP's translations for the two minor leagues he played in were bad, but there's nothing about why they were so bad. Did BP (or anyone else) ever figure that out? Not that it matters much now, probably...


Didn't the author (primate Colin Wyers) join BP and actually take over the PECOTA projections? He must've figured it out. He would later go on to join the world's most evil baseball team. IIRC he was (and maybe still is) active on the BTF lounge.
   13. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: January 20, 2020 at 04:49 PM (#5917642)
Gordon was a big-time prospect and folks seemed genuinely surprised when he struggled early. Pre-2007 (age 23), he was #1 at BPro and #2 at BA. Comping Wieters to Gordon at that age was a big compliment in projection land.
I get that. But by the time the Wieters projection came out, Gordon had already hit 253/332/421 in 1172 MLB PA. It's like PECOTA noted that Wieters was like Gordon at the same stage in their careers, and then completely ignored what the real Gordon did in MLB.
   14. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 20, 2020 at 06:01 PM (#5917660)
here's a dissection of why it was so wrong


Damn, Wyers really goes in on poor Clay Davenport there.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: January 20, 2020 at 06:38 PM (#5917669)
I get that. But by the time the Wieters projection came out, Gordon had already hit 253/332/421 in 1172 MLB PA. It's like PECOTA noted that Wieters was like Gordon at the same stage in their careers, and then completely ignored what the real Gordon did in MLB.

Which is exactly what comps do.
   16. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: January 20, 2020 at 06:57 PM (#5917673)
Also, PASTE gets credit for the "There were no survivors" line in the article linked above.


I think I still have the T-shirt somebody made in the back of my closet somewhere.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: January 20, 2020 at 11:50 PM (#5917708)
Hmmm that sounded snotty. Perhaps this is better.

"Comps" are the folks most similar to a batter entering his age X season. That should be the players most similar though age X-1 (or players most similar over the last 3 years through X-1 or whatever). Per PECOTA, the most similar player was Gordon. It would be good to know the rest of the top 10 and how good each of those comps were.

Gordon's age 23 performance would have been one of the data points going into Wieters' age 23 projection so PECOTA does incorporate it there. I know some (all?) of the projection systems now include some amount of "local weighting" such that similar players contribute more to the projection relative to the overall trend but I don't know if PECOTA did that then or now. One question then is who were the super-performers among Wieters' comps that produced that projection? And if there really aren't any then that would strongly suggest a translation problem for his underlying stats. Anyway, Gordon as top comp can be taken as "there's a reasonable chance he turns out to be not so great."

Looking at some performances around that time (to simplify my task and reduce era differences), Wieters' raw slash projection is not too far behind the age 23 seasons of Fielder 2007, Miggy 2006, very close to Hanley 2007, Mauer 2006 (very different shape), almost a dead ringer for David Wright 2006 and Sizemore 2006. Looking at the 4 closest (IMO):

Wright had already hit well at 21 and very well at 22. He destroyed AA and very well at AAA at age 21. If his performance didn't put him well ahead of Wieters through age 22 then there was definitely something wrong with how they were treating Wieters' numbers.

Sizemore was solid in the majors at 21 (160 PA) and put up a 123 OPS+ at 22 full-time in the majors. He put up lines of 304/373/480 at AA at 20 and 287/360/438 at AAA at 21. There's an important age difference there but I can maybe see how Wieters' 1000 OPS at 22 could comp to much lower rate stats in the minors and good not great MLB performace across the same ages. Maybe.

Mauer seems like the most appropriate comp given position but his minor-league record is just weird. He was at A+/AA at 20, 2 years before Wieters, but just a 838 OPS across them. At 21 he had just 29 PA in the minors but then just 122 in the majors (where he raked). At 22 in the majors, he put up a 783 OPS. Again I guess I can see how awesome A+/AA performance at 22 could match that.

Hanley also did A+/AA at 20 but just a 804 OPS across them (but much better at AA). At 21 he put up just a 720 OPS at AA. At 22, he was full-time on the Marlins and put up a 833. Again, maybe I can see a 1000 at A+/AA being kinda equivalent to a 833 in the majors.

Before anybody squabbles, that's a horribly biased sample of successes only. I have no way of finding players with a similar minors performance to Wieters much less translating majors to minors and I'm not gonna go searching. The point I'm trying to make is that those are nearly the best of the best age 23 seasons of recent vintage. It would only take a couple of 750 OPSs to offset Fielder, Miggy and Pujols who are the only 21st c age 23 seasons substantially better than Wieters' projection. That projected raw OPS would have put him in the top 20 age-23 seasons of the last 60 years. There might well have been a 5% chance that he'd turn out to be Piazza but if any projection comes in much higher than that, you've got to take a real good look at your model. (Piazza 318/370/561, 153 OPS+ in the majors at 24 ... and a 969 OPS at Albuquerque at 23 (better than it sounds) ... and a 884 at A+ at 22 ... so you can see how PECOTA would rank Wieters ahead through age 22.)

Of course that projection did receive a lot of negative/questioning attention at the time. Personally I'm pretty wary of comparing a guy who was at A+/AA last year to guys of the same age who have been in the majors for 1.5-2 years. Obviously when guys are ready (or more than ready) will vary a lot and whether their team gives them a shot when (or before) they are ready is beyond the player's control. But that projection was a 143 OPS+ and a guy with no experience in the majors should almost never receive a projection that good. Among players with actual age-23 seasons at that level, the closest you can come to "disappointment" are Tommy Davis and Ruben Sierra who both only had a couple of years at this level then faded. When you project a guy at this level, you're pretty much saying his _expectation_ is to be a regular AS, maybe an occasional MVP candidate and, given he's a C, an HoF-level C at least during his 20s -- this is Bench, Carter, Piazza, Mauer level as an expectation.
   18. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: January 21, 2020 at 01:07 PM (#5917825)
Thanks, Walt.
   19. Zach Posted: January 21, 2020 at 02:31 PM (#5917877)
Using hindsight to pile on is kind of lame, but it's hard to see how Wieters's projection could be that high:

2008, A+/AA, 130 games: .355/.454/.600
2009, AAA, 39 games: .305/.387/.504
2009, MLB, 96 games: .288/.340/.412

Accounting for levels, that's a pretty good followup season. He's still a high OBP catcher with good power.

PECOTA somehow came up with .311/.395/.544 as the MLB projection. Basically his AAA numbers, with a little more power.

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