Jeremy Guthrie turned in a fine pitching performance on Wednesday, but he didn't get the result he deserved from his quality start.
If you need a hint as to why the up-and-down Guthrie was up, look behind the plate. Guthrie—like other O's hurlers—pitches better when Gregg Zaun is catching.
Six of Guthrie's seven wins have come when Zaun started (Apr. 6, Apr. 11, May 14, May 25, June 21, June 27, July 19). Overall, Zaun is calling better games than Matt Wieters regardless of the starter.
Four Orioles pitchers—Guthrie, David Hernandez, Brad Bergesen, and Jason Berken—have started enough games with each catcher to draw worthwhile comparisons between the two backstops.
Taken as a whole, these comparisons reveal the value of having a veteran catcher calling games for you.
With Zaun catching: Allowed eight home runs in 10 games, a .265 average, a .327 on-base percentage, .448 slugging percentage, and a .775 OPS.
With Wieters cathing: Allowed 13 HR in nine games, a .286 average, a .342 on-base percentage, .543 slugging percentage, and an .885 OPS.
Zaun: Four games, one home run, .232 average, .284 OBP, .305 slugging, .589 OPS.
Wieters: Five games, five home runs, .298 average, .370 OBP, .518 slugging, .888 OPS.
Zaun: Eight games, three home runs, .234 average, .285 OBP, .330 slugging, .615 OBP.
Wieters: Eight games, three home runs, .257 average, .310 OBP, .359 slugging, .678 OBP.
Zaun: Six games, two home runs, .333 average, .405 OBP, .487 slugging, .892 OBP.
Wieters: Seven games, five home runs, .300 average, .363 OBP, .467 slugging, .830 OBP.
Advantage: Slight edge to Wieters.
Orioles fans should be excited about Wieters, especially given his prowess at the plate. However, the hype shouldn't obscure the defensive value that Zaun brings to the table.
Here's hoping that Zaun, who was signed in part to mentor Wieters, can share that knowledge with his rookie apprentice.