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
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.