Friday, May 13, 2011

The top hitter with RISP is...Matt Wieters?

BA, 20+ AB (Runners in Scoring Position)
.545 Matt Wieters (Orioles)
.528 Michael Young (Rangers)
.500 Brian McCann (Braves)
.484 Jason Kubel (Twins)
.472 Matt Holliday (Cardinals)
.467 Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
.458 Travis Hafner (Indians)
.458 Adam Jones (Orioles)
.433 Chipper Jones (Braves)
.433 Lance Berkman (Cardinals)
.433 Martin Prado (Braves)

An impressive list, and it's not a surprise that a list of the best hitters with RISP would be some of the best hitters in baseball.  Last year's list (min. 125 AB) was equally strong: Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Joey Votto, Carl Crawford, Delmon Young, Carlos Gonzalez, Elvis Andrus, Albert Pujols, Nick Markakis, Jonny Gomes.  That list includes the AL and NL MVP (as well as the players that finished 2nd and 3rd in the NL too).

The player that jumps out of the most is Matt Wieters, who is only hitting .245 overall this year (although he has 7 hits in his last 4 games).  After a promising first season in 2009 (.288 in 96 games), he only hit .249 last year. 

He's been hitting at the bottom of the Orioles' order (mostly 8th), and while the Orioles probably are not expecting him to carry them offensively right now, he is an important part of their future.  While it's risky to go too much off of 22 AB at the beginning of the season, the fact that he is hitting .545 with RISP is a good sign. 

The Orioles are attempting to get some production out of newcomers like Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero, but it hasn't worked out very well.  Even if it did, it's a short term fix.  If they want to compete, they need Wieters to become a solid run producer that can hit in the middle of the lineup.  It's a small sample size, and it might be fleeting, but his early success with RISP shows that might happen soon.

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