On Wilkerson

DMZ · January 31, 2008 at 6:44 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

knee xray

Just a couple years ago, I was a pretty huge Wilkerson fan, and not just because Jonah Keri forced me to pay attention to the Expos so I could understand what he was talking about all the time. Wilkerson was a pretty studly player there for a while. But over the last few years, it’s really come apart for him. He’s been repeatedly injured, his hitting’s been way off his peak when he was contributing, and you don’t really know what you’re getting. If he’s healthy and the injuries haven’t robbed him of his ability, maybe you luck out and get a left-handed bat in the lineup hitting .260/.375/.470 (hot cha cha) and some of his defense comes back so he’s not a huge liability in the field. Then he’s like super-Broussard without the music, except with Jones gone, he’ll be playing all the time.

The problem is that doesn’t seem real likely. From fangraphs, here’s the three projections we have already:
Bill James: .240/.345/.451
CHONE: .240/.340/.431
Marcel: .240/.329/.427

Those aren’t Safeco Field projections, btw.

The average AL right fielder last year hit .286/.348/.465. If Wilkerson’s healthy next year and can hit well and play some defense, that’s a cheap, effective plug for the hole they just created.

But to uphold the USSM virtues of pessimism, pessimism, and pessimism, I wonder what the chances of that are. Given his recent history, it seems a lot more likely that he’s going to miss at least a decent chunk of time and be maybe a little better in right than Guillen. Ichiro’s going to need a defensive sub to rest his legs is what. And it’s a lot to expect him to hit, post-injuries, as well as he did as a peaking, healthy 25-27-year-old.

The good news is he’s a lefty, so hopefully Safeco doesn’t take much from him at all. Here’s hoping. I’d love to see Wilkerson have a career resurrection in Seattle.

I wonder if the M’s were so encouraged by Vidro that they decided to take on another guy who’d suffered a lot of leg injuries to see if they can do it again.

broken x-ray” picture from [177]’s flickr stream, used under the Creative Commons license


139 Responses to “On Wilkerson”

  1. scott19 on February 1st, 2008 1:09 pm

    92 & 95: Guess we know now why the Dodgers & Angels both ran Weaver out of town — they couldn’t afford to have him starting the infield grass on fire come August.

  2. zzyzx on February 1st, 2008 1:10 pm

    Upon thinking about it, it occurs to me that the effect does exist, but only if the differences were much larger than could ever be tolerated on a MLB roster. Suppose the M’s scored 794 runs but had only two pitchers who pitched equally, one who never gave up a run and one who gave up 30 runs a game. That team would be (most likely) 81-81. They’d only project to 52 wins though.

    The difference between 7 runs a game and 4 just wasn’t enough to trigger that.

    So much for an argument for (relative) optimism for next year. *shakes fist*

  3. Graham on February 1st, 2008 1:15 pm

    Pythag is skewed by having a bullpen composed of really really good relief aces and really really bad mop up guys. That results in a team winning more close games while losing efforts tend to get worse.

    I believe THT did a piece on this a while ago – I’ll try to find it.

  4. TumwaterMike on February 1st, 2008 1:27 pm

    SpokaneMsFan 84-We’ll see.

  5. goraniers on February 1st, 2008 1:32 pm

    Doesn’t it make sense that Bavasi would want to push Wlad up this year in some capacity (e.g. platoon with Brad in the second half) given his record of pushing players to the majors quickly? Is there room for him on the bench with Boom Boom backing up the outfield?

  6. gwangung on February 1st, 2008 1:39 pm

    Bavasi’s philosophy is to make minor leaguers face adversity so they can learn how to overcome it, not necessarily force them to the majors quickly. He believes the biggest step is to go from AAA to the majors. That does not necessarily mean that he will promote Wlad to the big club quickly.

  7. Gregor on February 1st, 2008 1:45 pm

    Perhaps its best if we all take the Nihilistic approach until this whole thing blows over. “Ve believe in nozzing, Lebowski!”

    Nice marmot!

  8. shortbus on February 1st, 2008 1:52 pm

    So on the optimistic side the M’s could theoretically repeat their defiance of Pythagoras if their bullpen holds leads as effectively as it did last year…something which is within their power to control and not due entirely to luck. However, by trading Sherrill, we will be significanlty less likely to be able to do so. Optimism crushed!

  9. gwangung on February 1st, 2008 2:04 pm

    However, by trading Sherrill, we will be significanlty less likely to be able to do so.

    And we probably will be trading one of his most ready replacements….

  10. bakomariner on February 1st, 2008 2:08 pm

    I don’t think the loss of Sherril will be that huge…all the balls landing in LF and RF once Ichiro gets hurt from covering their asses all year is what will hurt…

  11. et_blankenship on February 1st, 2008 2:32 pm

    “Nice Marmot!”

    Greatest movie ever.

    Back to Wlad/RF. If the right field position generates a total of 700 plate appearances, and Wilkerson gets 450 of those, that leaves 250 PA’s for the jackals. So who are the jackals? Bloomquist? His expeditions in RF rarely venture beyond late-inning replacement duty. So that leaves . . . what, maybe 235 PA’s lying around for some combination of Wlad/Reed/Jimerson/Morse? That’s a lot of run, especially for a young guy like Wlad if he’s given the opportunity to fill in regularly for an injured Wilkerson.

    I have no idea where I am going with this . . . and if Wilkerson is a bastion of health and production in 2008, this becomes even more pointless. Carry on.

  12. TumwaterMike on February 1st, 2008 2:35 pm

    [I think we should rename this comment ‘deleted’]

  13. TumwaterMike on February 1st, 2008 2:39 pm

    [I’m positive that results-based analysis of won-loss totals is bad and tells you nothing useful]

  14. lailaihei on February 1st, 2008 2:42 pm

    What if we win 85 and miss the playoffs by 10 games like I think?

  15. tgf on February 1st, 2008 2:44 pm

    I think we should rename this site the USSPessimist.

    Wow, I’ve never heard that before…

  16. shortbus on February 1st, 2008 2:45 pm


    You really think Sherrill’s contribution will be that easy to make up? He only gave up 12 runs in 45 innings. O’Flaherty was pretty effective vs. lefties last year with a .482 OPS.

  17. Sec 108 on February 1st, 2008 2:53 pm

    I grew up and live in Seattle, thus my Mariner fandom makes sense. I am a Cub by birth however. Passed down many generations. Cubs fans go into every year very optimistic. What has that gotten them?

    Being realistic is not pessimism. I call it being positive in a negative world.

  18. bakomariner on February 1st, 2008 2:56 pm

    Sherrill will be missed, but I was saying that the outfield defense is a more blatant problem…With Rauls bad legs and Wilks bad everything, not to mention they aren’t good defenders when healthy, Ichiro is going to have the most outfield outs in the majors trying to cover the whole damn yard…and God forbid he get hurt…

    In summary, I think the pen will be a strength as usual even without George…the outfield defense is gonna be terrible…

  19. Wishhiker on February 1st, 2008 3:09 pm

    My knuckles are sore from reading all this injury talk. 3 of the 4 names the team could least handle getting injured have been mentioned on this thread. It’d really suck if Bavasi got a bum leg and they had to take him out back and shoot him. I didn’t knock on wood that time.

  20. JMHawkins on February 1st, 2008 3:10 pm

    Okay, so some pyth-y calculations. Last year we were RS-RA: 794-813, for a pythProj of 79-81. Our RA avg was 5.0 per game.

    Ramirez started 20 games and in those games our RA avg was 6.5. Feierabend started 9 games with a RAA of 7.8 (yikes). Weaver started 27 games with a RAA of 6.0.

    If you remove Ramirez and Feierabend from the record and extrapolate everyone else to a full season, we would have a RS-RA of 794-747, giving a pythProj of 86-76. Remove all three and it’s 794-691 for a projected 91-71 (which would have still be 3 games short of a playoff berth).

    Now, neither calculation is completely “fair” since they exclude our worst pitchers and replace them with an average of our best pitchers. More accurate would be to replace the Ramirez, Feierabend and Weaver starts with an average 4/5 pitcher and see what happens then. Hey, we have one of those – Jarrod Washburn. We gave up an average of 4.75 RA in his starts. Assuming we got a couple of clones of Wash to start the 56 games Ramirez, Feierabend and Weaver started, we’d have RS-RA of 794-718, for a projected…

    …drum roll please…


    So, the Baseball Gods were generous last year and gave us the record we should have had if we’d been smarter about constructing the back end of the rotation.

    That’s still 6 games out of the playoffs.

  21. Wishhiker on February 1st, 2008 3:27 pm

    Pythag is not that accurate. It’s a nice test, but the noise in the losses kills it’s accuracy. Especially when you’re down by 5 going in to the second, it’s harder to be positive in each at bat and the other team piles on more runs. Then you put a mop-up reliever out there and things get worse. This has all been gone over before, but it wasn’t luck that they had such high percentage in close games. They have names and numbers, none of them are luck. When they had a good lead the lesser bullpen pitchers give up a few runs and it’s close again. Once they were being blown out the blowout got worse when the back end of the bullpen (Reitsma, Campillo, Parish, Davis, Woods, Lowe and both Whites) gave up more. This team had the perfect differential between TOR to BOR as well as TOBP to BOBP to really skew the pythag’s accuracy. I will continue to submit this as being the roster that most skews the pythagorean theorums in the history of the game.

  22. lailaihei on February 1st, 2008 3:39 pm

    Even if pythag isn’t completely accurate (which it isn’t), we still got a few lucky wins. the difference between TOR to BOR and TOBP to BOBP skewed it maybe… 3-4 wins? I don’t see it being much more than that, though.

    It’s getting pretty late in the day… does that mean that the trade will be postponed until Monday?

  23. awolfgang on February 1st, 2008 3:43 pm

    In defense of Pythag:
    Before I got so involved in the metrics and intricacies of baseball, I was generally satisfied if the M’s won more than lost, cause that would be a net gain of happy days. But, now I’m more learned, and I found that last year even on M’s wins I was not totally happy because we’d win in spite of making the right decisions. Kind of like your kid getting the right answer but going about it all wrong, so in defense of Pythag, I think it accurately reflected my happy/sad day ratio while not matching the W/L pct.

  24. bakomariner on February 1st, 2008 3:45 pm

    123- Don’t let the math of baseball ruin the fun of the game man…enjoy the wins…

  25. BrianV on February 1st, 2008 3:55 pm

    Pythag is not that accurate. It’s a nice test, but the noise in the losses kills it’s accuracy. Especially when you’re down by 5 going in to the second, it’s harder to be positive in each at bat and the other team piles on more runs.

    If this were the case, every team would outperform its pythagorean record, but they don’t.

    If you want to make up a factor like “noise in the losses,” you have to consider “noise in the wins,” too.

  26. Graham on February 1st, 2008 4:00 pm

    Time for this conversation to drift back towards Brad Wilkerson methinks.

  27. gwangung on February 1st, 2008 4:03 pm

    Um, dudes….like most measures, Pythag has cases where the prediction doesn’t match the reality. Doesn’t erase the fact that for the most part it predicts a team’s record.

    Trying to beat the Pythag consistently is trying to bet consistently on one or two numbers at the roulette wheel–the house is gonna take your money.

  28. Evan on February 1st, 2008 4:26 pm

    BP just released the first 2008 PECOTA projections.

    Brad Wilkerson in a neutral park:

    .235/.330/.447 in 363 PA.

  29. shortbus on February 1st, 2008 4:28 pm

    We need a thread on why this is deal taking so !@#$! long to come to a conclusion. I guess this is what happens when two of the dumbest organizations in baseball try to make a deal. It’s like watching two retarded rabbits trying to mate. They both really want something to happen but until a smarter rabbit comes along neither one is going to get what they want.

  30. SpokaneMsFan on February 1st, 2008 5:06 pm

    Good question, why is this taking so long? I am beginning to wonder if we gave Bavasi too much credit in assuming this meant the Jones deal was done. I mean why call up Jeremy Reed to shore up defense as a 4th outfielder and possibly hit some doubles from the left side of the plate on the cheap when you can have Brad Wilkerson for a mere 3 million. In and of itself it is a pretty Bill like move. That being said it probably is at least a move based on the likelihood of the Jones trade.

  31. shemberry on February 1st, 2008 5:37 pm

    I am tired of hearing how pessimistic this site is. I don’t comment often, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the facts. The USSM has suggested a specific way to build a team, the M’s have done things very differently. The M’s haven’t been to the playoffs since 2001.

    It’s not pessimism it’s realism. I will be excited if the M’s make the playoffs with Bedard in the next two years, but I just don’t see it happening. If it does, I will come on here and admit that I was wrong. I hope all of you that are saying this is a pessimistic site will do the same when we finish with 80-85 wins for the next two seasons.

  32. Dayve on February 1st, 2008 6:20 pm

    Hey, I have a question and it’s not a new one…why is this deal taking so long? And why no inside information? No speculation, no nothing?

  33. zackr on February 1st, 2008 6:28 pm

    Why are we not talking about the obvious, cheap right field solution? FREE DOYLE!!!!!!’

  34. dlb on February 1st, 2008 6:58 pm

    [Santana has his own post now]

  35. msb on February 1st, 2008 8:17 pm

    Hey, I have a question and it’s not a new one…why is this deal taking so long? And why no inside information? No speculation, no nothing?

    hey, that’s what The Google is for.

  36. 300ZXNA on February 2nd, 2008 12:37 am

    *praying quietly to self*

    “may this holdup PLEASE be a sign that Bavasi is trying to bait and switch Balt with Morrow for Jones in the deal”


  37. BillyJive on February 2nd, 2008 6:26 pm

    Why would you want to sub Morrow for Jones? Aren’t we already giving up 4 pitchers in this deal? With pitchers being such a hot commodity I’m sure in a few years we can trade Morrow for 5 outfielders…
    How come so many math geeks are Mariners fans?

  38. slescotts on March 24th, 2008 4:31 pm

    I don’t think Wilkerson should be starting in the outfield. Balentien should be in his place. We’d save $2.6 million What is the use of a left-handed bat with those numbers? Sorry to be so harsh, I just don’t get it. Save some money, give Balentien a chance. Wilkerson’s numbers are not worth 3 million bucks. Left handed, .234 at 3 million or ‘DEFT’ handed, .260-300 for 400 g’s? Save some money and spend it on keeping Kenji.

    Take a ‘gamble’ on young talent (e.g Sox and Pedroia) Our current RF ‘plug’ is a far bigger risk. 3 million bucks isn’t a deal.

  39. slescotts on March 24th, 2008 4:45 pm

    Furthermore, there is nothing in his ‘make-up’ that suggests a career revival, resurgence, explosion, reinvigoration… whatever word you wanna throw out there is realistic. The guy hit .268 peaking… Sure he hit 32 hr’s, the same year he had a ton of strikeouts. His numbers aren’t all ponies and puppy dogs. He’s expensive. I agree with “milendriel” that this organization is pathetic when it comes to forward thinking. I disagree that this is a garage sale or a scrap heap deal. We simply overpaid as usual.

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