Wilson showing his stuff
Every year, it seems, several fantasy baseball columnists get very excited about Craig Wilson. There are two reasons for this. First, Wilson's a pretty good hitter. Second, Wilson qualifies as a catcher in most fantasy leagues.
The problem is that the Pirates haven't always been as excited about Wilson as everybody else. In his first two seasons in the big leagues, Wilson put up some very solid offensive numbers, but only played in 219 games and only got 526 at-bats (2.4 AB/G).
On the surface, this season looks like more of the same. Wilson has played in only 100 out of 145 games and he only has 250 at-bats (2.5 AB/G). That is mostly because the Pirates ignored him a lot at the beginning of the season and he struggled somewhat when they did use him.
By the end of May, Wilson had sat on the bench for 23 games and was hitting just .208/.326/.375 (.701). Wilson saw more playing time in June (he didn't play in just six games) and hit .325/.400/.450 (.850).
Still, for the season he had just three home runs and eight doubles. He doubled that home run total in July, when he again sat out six games and hit .228/.313/.474 (.786).
Then, in August, Wilson saw the bench a lot again, sitting out for 10 games. When he did play, however, he made a lot of noise. He hit five home runs in 42 at-bats and hit .333/.472/.786 (1.257) for the month.
Now, Wilson has played in 13 consecutive games and he's been on fire the past week. In Pittsburgh's last seven games, Wilson is hitting .423/.500/1.000 (1.500) with five home runs. For the season, he's hitting .268/.368/.528 (896) with 16 home runs.
Wilson's recent performance shouldn't really be that big of a surprise because, as I said before, he's always been a good hitter.
After being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the second round in 1995, Wilson hit .283/.367/.484 (.851) with seven homers in 49 games in rookie ball. The Blue Jays included Wilson as a player to be named later in a trade that winter, and the following season he hit .261/.316/.402 (.718) with 11 home runs in 131 games for Class A Hagerstown. That would be the worst performance of his career.
The next year, he moved to Class A Lynchburg, where he hit .264/.350/.476 (.826) with 19 homers in 117 games. He started at Lynchburg again in 1998, but moved up to Class AA Carolina after hitting .269/.348/.507 (.855) with 12 homers in 61 games. In 45 games with Carolina, he hit .331/.399/.507 (.906) with five home runs.
In 1999, Wilson played for Class AA Altoona, where he hit .268/.367/.508 (.875) with 20 homers in 111 games. The next year, he moved up to Class AAA Nashville and set the league on fire, hitting .283/.383/.604 (.987) with 33 homers in 124 games.
In 2001, Wilson got his first shot at the major leagues, and he hit .310/.390/.589 (.979) with 13 homers in 81 games. Last year, Wilson hit .264/.355/.443 (.798) with 16 homers in 131 games.
After his performance this season, Wilson has a nice major league hitting line of .276/.366/.501 (.867) with 45 home runs in 318 games. The fact that he's cheap and can play catcher, first base and the corner outfield positions makes him even more valuable.
Now, you might look at his splits and say that he shouldn't get much playing time against righties, but that's not really true. Sure, Wilson is hitting .337/.465/.750 (1.215) with 10 homers in 92 at-bats against lefties this year and just .228/.305/.399 (.704) with six homers in 158 at-bats against righties, but those are small sample sizes.
Before this year, Wilson had hit .331/.401/.529 (.930) with nine homers in 157 at-bats against lefties and .255/.350/.469 (.819) with 20 homers in 369 at-bats against righties. So, he's definitely a better hitter against lefties, but I don't think he's so bad against righties that he shouldn't ever be in the lineup against them.
As far as I'm concerned, the Pirates should make Wilson a full-time player next year and see what he can do. They're not going to the playoffs next year anyway, so if he struggles it doesn't really hurt. If he shows that he can play every day, however, it could really help the Pirates down the road.
As some of you may remember, I am now writing a weekly fantasy football column for the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle. Here's the link to this week's column:
Fantasy football: Keep your RBs
I wanted to ask you to e-mail me if you read the column. I'd love to know what you think of it, and I also am curious to find out how many people go read my column from my blog.
Also, you may have noticed that I added a section to the column on the right labeled "My Football Picks." If you remember, Seth Stohs asked me to make football picks every week this season for him to post on his web site along with the picks of eight other people.
Well, I've decided to list how I do in that league on this blog. Every Tuesday, I will list how I did the previous week and update my overall record, along with my rank among the nine "experts" in both areas.
Last week, I went 10-6, which was tied for the fourth-best. I am also in another picks league (one that has money involved) and I went 12-4 in that one. Sometime between when I turned my picks in to Seth last Wednesday and when I turned my picks in to the guy who runs the other league I'm in on Friday, I changed my mind about the Dallas/Atlanta game and the San Diego/Kansas City game. My second intuition ended up being right in both cases, so I was two games better in the other league (I guess if you're going to do better in one than the other, though, it's nice to do better in the one that has money involved).
Anyway, everybody's picks for Week 2 have been posted over at Seth's Football Picks Page.
Finally, I wanted to once again thank everybody who has stopped by to read this blog. I had 448 visitors yesterday, which is far and away the most this site has ever had in one day. It's only September 12th, and I've already had almost as many visitors this month as all of last month. I really appreciate all of the interest.