At this point, it might seem odd to think of the Orioles' two time Gold Glove winning catcher as a disappointment or a never was, but who among us didn't buy into all the pre-debut hype? Surely that's not the fault of Wieters, though sometimes I imagine sliced bread chuckling at our hubris nonetheless. The career of the Switch Hitting Jesus has thus far been characterized by flashes of greatness and some inconsistency. His 2014 didn't do alot to cement his place in Orioles history.
Wieters was a key cog in the 2012 ALDS team winning a Gold Glove and turning in his second best offensive season as a major leaguer (23 homers and a 107 OPS+). Buck Showalter rode Wieters hard in 2013 and Wieters logged an amazing 140 games behind the plate, though his productivity seemed to suffer the consequences. Wieters' offensive output dropped to an OPS+ of 90, though he still managed to swat 22 homers. The most curious aspect of his game in 2013 seemed to be his total neglect of framing. While never a prolific framer on the level of Jose Molina or Jonathan Lucroy, Wieters has at least historically shown some ability at picking up strikes via framing (if you put stock in the data available via Brooks Baseball and Baseball Prospectus). In 2013, however, Wieters was worth NEGATIVE 8.9 framing runs.
So which Wieters would show up in 2014? Perhaps most importantly, it wasn't Wieters the workhorse. When news first surfaced that he was experiencing forearm pain, there was concern among fans, but the durable Wieters soldiered on. Birdland held its collective breath as Wieters paid an early May visit to Dr. James Andrews, but exhaled as he seemingly received the all clear. Wieters was then moved to DH, but was put on the disabled list after four games serving in that capacity. After a month on the disabled list, Wieters paid another visit to Dr. Andrews and the worst fears of Orioles fans were confirmed: Wieters had suffered a torn UCL and would require season ending Tommy John surgery. If there's any consolation in this diagnosis, perhaps it's that it offers a plausible explanation for the difficulty Wieters displayed in controlling the running game in 2014. Always a strong suit, Wieters only managed to throw out one baserunner in 12 tries across his 22 games behind the plate (he had never thrown out less than 31% in a full season).
Wieters got off to his customary hot start in April at the plate. He historically has produced a .350 wOBA in April, though was up to .365 when he went on the DL. Wieters had also hit five home runs and five doubles. I'll dignify no questions from the peanut gallery as to how many triples he hit. Was Wieters on the verge of a breakout offensive season? It's possible, but there's really not much information to judge.
What is Wieters going forward? He's entering his final year of arbitration and now the notion that he'd cost tens of millions to extend or sign as a free agent doesn't seem like such a foregone conclusion. The record of position players (catchers, no less) fully coming back from Tommy John is spotty at best. For him to put together his best offensive season in 2015 would be Wieters' best trick yet.