Should Wieters Follow Victorino's Footsteps?Posted on January 23, 2014 by Dillon Atkinson
In the summer of 2013, Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino made a huge decision. He's been a successful switch-hitter for his entire career, but he made an adjustment to just hitting right-handed in 2013. The Boston media asked Victorino why he made the change, and the outfielder said it was because of an injury, and he can't sit back and drive the ball when he's hitting left-handed. There's not a stat-sheet I can locate that will tell me how well he did after the switch. But just by using the naked eye, Victorino looked like he had no trouble from the right side when facing a right-handed pitcher.
Why am I talking about this Red Sox player on an website that covers the Orioles?
I want to throw an idea in the discussion that some people may have thought about, but never really made into a deep thought... Should Matt Wieters become just a right-handed hitter only?
This may sound foolish, because switch-hitting catchers are hard to come by. But former closer Mitch Williams and I are on the same page with this topic. Matt Wieters is not a switch-hitter. He is a right-handed hitter that can occasionally hit from the left side.
In 2011 and 2012, Wieters batted above .320 as a right-handed hitter, and below .240 as a left-handed hitter. 2013 was his worst season thus far, batting .282 from the right and .212 from the left. Without checking the statistics, people may think that Wieters displays average hitting right-handed and power left-handed. But that may not be the case.
In 2013, Wieters hit 11 dingers from the left and 11 from the right. Even split? Not really. Wieters had 360 at-bats left-handed, and 163 right-handed last season. That means that he hit one homer for every 32.7 at-bats from the left side, and one for every 14.8 at-bats from the right.
Aside from the statistics, Wieters looks more comfortable at the plate when he bats right-handed. He displays more bat speed and bat control. From the left-side, his swing gets a bit loopy, and constantly pulls the ball on the ground. Orioles fans, how many times have we seen Wieters ground out to second base when he hits left-handed? The answer is far too many.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, click here to watch Matt Wieters hit his slow roller to the right side, like he always does. He gets the outside pitch and shows absolutely ZERO bat control by pulling the ball into a slow grounder.
Click here to watch Matt Wieters hit an opposite field home run from the right side of the plate. He keeps his weight and hands back and drives the ball to right field. Notice his waist didn't fly open like it did in the video of him batting lefty. Wieters needs to stay closed on outside pitches if he wants to have better bat control.
Now I'm not saying Matt Wieters would be 100% comfortable facing right-handed pitchers from the right side of the plate. But with what I'm seeing, he doesn't look comfortable facing right-handers from the left side either. All I ask is "Why not?" What will it hurt to have Matt Wieters bat righty at all times during intersquad games in Spring Training? It can't hurt anything, because nothing is going to hurt that .214 atrocious batting average vs RHP from 2013.
Either way, that was an idea to help Matt Wieters and the Orioles. If Wieters really wants "Mauer-money," he'll have to improve on his hitting. If the Orioles want to trade the Gold Glove backstop, this could help increase his trade value.
If anyone is wondering, Shane Victorino will likely return to switch hitting in 2014.
I'd like to hear your feedback. Leave a comment below or tweet me at @DillonAtkinson_