Key to Contention: Matt Wieters' Bat

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 29: Matt Wieters #32 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a home run in the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 29, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Remember the beginning of the season, when Matt Wieters was on fire at the plate? I thought for sure our moment had finally come and that he would really bust out this season. Unfortunately, he went very cold in about mid-May and again my dreams were crushed.

The good thing about Matt Wieters' defense is that while it's usually good, even when it's not as good as normal, it's still better than average. I'm not at all concerned about that going forward. And while his defense combined with his bat during the low points still makes for a valuable catcher, it doesn't make for the catcher we need to be a cornerstone for this team.

On May 13th, Matt Wieters went 1-for-3 with a walk and ended the game with a hitting line of .275/.360/.542. That was the last day that his OPS was over .900. Both his OBP and SLG took at hit over the next few months as Wieters went ice cold. He didn't even look comfortable at the plate and on July 27th, with a season low OPS of .720, Buck Showalter gave him two days off in a row. The reason for the break, officially, was a sore bicep, and while I don't doubt that he had one, it was also obviously a chance for him to take a mental break as well.

Since his mini-vacation, Wieters has played in eleven games and has looked much better (this of course comes with our usual caveat of small sample size). He's gone 15-for-45 in that stretch with 3 walks, 3 doubles and 4 home runs, and has raised his season batting line to .249/.325/.434, which is good for an OPS+ of 105.

With the Orioles in contention for both the wild card and the division lead with just about eight weeks left to go, a strong offensive effort from Wieters could do wonders for the team's chances to either lock up on of the play in spots or even, crazily enough, overtake the New York Yankees for first place.

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