Catcher Matt Wieters isn’t the best player on the Baltimore Orioles, but he is the most important player. As an organization, Baltimore is very deep and would likely be able to rise up to the challenge and overcome an injury to any of their superstars, including Chris Davis and Adam Jones. However, if Wieters were to miss an extended amount of time due to injury, the Orioles wouldn’t be able to overcome it.
This doesn’t have much to do with Wieters as a player, though. It mainly has to do with the Orioles’ other options at catcher. While backup catcher Steve Clevenger put up impressive numbers in the spring and he may be able to continue that success playing a limited number of games as a backup, he likely wouldn’t be able to keep that success going over the course of a grueling MLB season.
Wieters hit .235/.287/.417 with 22 home runs and 79 RBIs last season for the Orioles. More importantly, though, he’s a two-time Gold Glove winner and has a great reputation for his work with the pitching staff.
In comparison, the other catchers with major league experience on the Orioles’ roster are Clevenger and Johnny Monell. Monell played in eight games last season, batting a mere .125/.222/.125 and didn’t turn any heads this spring. Clevenger won the backup job, so he’d likely take over as the everyday catcher in Wieters’ absence.
While Clevenger tore the cover off the ball this spring, batting .484/.529/.645 with a home run and six RBIs, that isn’t nearly enough of a track record to be the starting catcher on a team contending for the World Series. Defensively, Clevenger was solid, but he’s not nearly as good as Wieters — not yet anyway. Clevenger is a career .204/.262/.292 hitter in 83 games in the major leagues.
Unless the Orioles make a trade for another catcher with a proven track record, or Clevenger continues his success as Wieters’ backup early in the season, Baltimore better protect Wieters like he’s the President of the United States or their World Series aspirations could come to a crashing halt.