Matt Wieters hasn’t lived up to the considerable hype offensively yet, hitting just .266 with 35 homers and a .734 OPS through 342 career games, but the former No. 5 overall pick has actually been even better than advertised defensively.
Wieters leads baseball by throwing out 40 percent of stolen base attempts, gunning down 26 runners while allowing a total of just 44 steals in 950 innings behind the plate. And in three seasons his throw-out percentage has risen from 24 to 31 to 40.
After yesterday’s game, in which Wieters homered and also threw out a base-stealer in extra innings, manager Buck Showalter told Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun that “if the Gold Glove doesn’t go Wieters’ way, then somebody ain’t watching.”
And there’s a pretty good chance it will. Joe Mauer has won each of the AL’s past three Gold Gloves at catcher, but he’s been injured and ineffective while seeing significant time at first base this season. And not only does Wieters lead the league with a 40 percent throw-out rate, Alex Avila of the Tigers is the only other catcher above 30 percent.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.