Mets Fans Thought Wieters Was Better Than d’Arnaud
By any measure, Travis d’Arnaud‘s 2017 season was truly disappointing. He landed on the disabled list once again. His batting line of .244/.293/.443 was more backup than catcher many believed would have an All Star caliber season under the tutelage of new catching coach Glenn Sherlock. His one calling card, his pitch framing, really regressed going from one of the best to being one of the worst. All in all, it was a bad season for d’Arnaud. However, the one bright side is he wasn’t Matt Wieters.
If you thought d’Arnaud had a bad season, you weren’t paying attention at all to Wieters. In 123 games this season he would hit .225/.288/.344 with 20 doubles, 10 homers, and 52 RBI. That was good for a 63 OPS+ and a 62 wRC+. If you want to gauge how bad that is, consider d’Arnaud had a better batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS+, and wRC+. He also had more triples, homers, extra base hits, and RBI despite playing in 11 fewer games and in a much less potent offense.
Behind the plate, Wieters was even worse than d’Arnaud pitch framing putting up a -15.7 RAA (Runs Above Avergae) to d’Arnaud’s -4.2. Keep in mind that while both regressed from prior seasons, Wieters has always been a poor pitch framer.
Really, the only way you could say Wieters had a better year than d’Arnaud was throwing out base runners. Wieters bested d’Arnaud by throwing out 25% of base runners to d’Arnaud’s 17%. For what it’s worth both were below league average.
In the end, even with all the struggles, d’Arnaud posted a 1.2 bWAR and a 0.8 fWAR. Wieters? Again he trailed d’Arnaud posting a -0.5 bWAR and a -0.2 fWAR.
If you’re still not convinced d’Arnaud is a better catcher than Wieters, look no further than what transpired last night when Wieters completely fell apart.
In that faithful fifth inning, it was Wieters who made the key blunder. At that point, Addison Russell had already hit the go-ahead two out double to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead. The rest of that inning was on Wieters.
After the intentional walk to Jason Heyward, Max Scherzer struck out Javier Baez. That should have ended the inning except Wieters couldn’t get down to block the ball. This allowed Baez to take off for first. By the time Wieters had located the ball, he had no shot at Baez. Rather than eat the ball, he threw the ball into right field allowing Russell to score from second.
Yes, the umpire blew the call not calling Baez out for hitting Wieters in the mask. However, that play did not force Wieters to not get down and block a ball he reasonably knew was going to be the dirt. It also did not force him to throw the ball away.
The inning was then extended again with a Wieters catcher’s interference loading the bases. Once Scherzer hit Jon Jay with a pitch, it was 7-4 Cubs.
Throw in his flying out to end a rally in the sixth, his stranding four runners, and his hitting .143/.333/.143 in the series with no RBI, you have a nightmare NLDS following just an awful season.
For all of that the Nationals paid Wieters $10.5 million. It gets even better with Wieters having a $10.5 million player option he’d be insane to revoke.
In the end, d’Arnaud may have had a really disappointing season, but he was not Wieters. That is the same Wieters many Mets fans were clamoring for all offseason, and frankly were irritated when Wieters went to the Nationals. This is something everyone should keep in mind this offseason with another weak catching free agent market.