2016 Orioles preview: Matt Wieters

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With Opening Day less than a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2016 Orioles every day as they try to return to the playoffs for the third time in five years this season.

March 1 – Adam Jones
March 2 – Chris Tillman
March 3 – Jonathan Schoop
March 4 – Brad Brach
March 5 – Nolan Reimold
March 6 – Yovani Gallardo

C Matt Wieters

Age: 29

Contract status: Under contract through the 2016 season

2015 stats: .267/.319/.422, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 24 R, 0 SB, 282 PA

Why to be impressed: Wieters caught on consecutive days just five times upon returning from Tommy John surgery in June, but he caught a respectable 31 percent of runners trying to steal, creating optimism about his defense with a full offseason and spring. The switch hitter batted .305 with a .917 on-base plus slugging percentage over the final month while handling a bigger defensive workload.

Why to be concerned: The four returning members of last year’s starting rotation had superior ERAs when pitching to Caleb Joseph compared to Wieters, which does make you wonder what a heavier workload for the latter might mean for the pitching in 2016. His .742 OPS last year was in line with his career .743 mark, but a .328 batting average on balls in play indicates some better luck than normal.

2016 outlook: The Orioles didn’t plan on Wieters accepting the $15.8 million qualifying offer in early November, but they hope he will provide enough of an offensive upgrade to offset what defensive value could be lost without Joseph behind the plate. With a chance to reestablish his market as one of the best catchers in baseball, Wieters is eager to put the memory of elbow surgery long behind him.

2016 not-so-scientific projections: .263/.321/.415, 17 HR, 64 RBI, 58 R, 1 SB, 475 PA

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