POTD Jack Wilson

When news of Betancourt's death proved to be unexaggerated, we opined at D-O-V that this must mean a deal for a SS was in the works.

Personally think it's clear that Ronny Cedeno is not an acceptable AL shortstop, and my suspicion is that Zduriencik would almost certainly agree with this.  Betancourt, however frustrated we are with him, *is* an acceptable AL shortstop and you wouldn't powerflush him unless you had an upgrade.


Q.  Is he really that GOOD with the glove?

A.  All the Pirates' fans agree that he's the real deal out there.  Just as one example, Tango's poll consistently gives Wilson 80+ and has him among the best SS's in the game.

Fangraphs has him leading the league in SS fielding, by far.  BP's RATE has him wayyyyyy up there.

I actually like the fact that he doesn't have much footspeed (his SX is Griffey-like).  That means that the dude is the hyper-quick SS with great hands -- a Vizquel type.  All the fans' comments are consistent with this interpretation.

I'm sure that Jack Wilson is the classic smile-a-night NL shortstop.


Q.  Can Wilson hit well enough to help stop the bleeding?

A.  Considering the trauma that we're facing, he can, yes.

Think Willie Bloomquist in the bottom half of the inning, crossed with Omar Vizquel in the top half of the inning.

Wilson's career 270/310/375 line creates, at age 31, a well-established level of performance.  

Nine Wilsons would create 4.0 runs per game in the National League, which is about where the Padres' offense is these days (with the TV guys predicting no-hitter for every Felix or Lincecum who rolls in there.)   Willie has created 3.9 runs per 27 outs in the AL.


Wilson's 80 OPS+ is a "hard" 80, because his CT% is constantly over 90.  He puts the ball in play every time, and puts it in play weakly every time, like Willie.  That's the classic National League glove-first shortstop since I was a kid ...

That 80 OPS+ compares favorably to the wretched 32 OPS+ that Ronny Cedeno is giving us right now -- .150/.210/.290 is at least as bad as having a pitcher hit for the DH.

Wilson's 80 compares to Yuniesky's historical 85, and to the 63 that the slumping Yuni had been giving us this year.

Yeah, Wilson would stop the bleeding offensively at SS, give us a guy who was predictably bad but also predictably not a major problem.


Q.  Is D-O-V down with no-hit glove players at SS?

A.  Absolutely.  IF they legitimately change games with their gloves.  But the problemo is, you can't let these guys accumulate in the lineup.

If you're going to put a no-hit glove guy at SS, and you've got Rob Johnson behind the plate, now you HAVE to have a bat at 3B and you also have to make bat decisions around the field elsewhere (such as getting Ryan Langerhans out of there if he starts slumping).


Q.  Is Jack Wilson worth $8M per, compared to an RLP?

A.  Fangraphs has him as barely worth $8M at the moment, based on giving him the maximum possible evaluation of +20 runs defensively.

That $8M is relative to the free agent market!   NOT to the performance you get from non-arb players.

Wilson's bat is so weak that the net effect is always going to be that an RLP is within a stone's throw of Wilson's value ... so why spend $8M on that when the Dunns, Abreus, Halladays and those guys are in sight?

From a sabermetric point of view, logically, it SHOULD be easy to find an RLP who gives you better value than Wilson.  SOME AAA player has got to be able to give you $4M worth of performance for the minimum, right?


Wrong.  And it underlines the fact that RLP's don't always come up and help you win games.  Those RLP's don't come up and deliver their MLE batting lines in the first month, kiddies.

If the Mariners COULD get a Rainier to come up, play SS decently, and hit 260/320/390, they would.  But the RLP is more a rumor, than it is a can of beans you can buy off the shelf at Safeway.

If you support acquiring Jack Wilson at $8M plus trade goodie, then you should also acknowledge that finding a good RLP is much harder than rumor has it.


Wal-Mart doesn't stock RLP's.  For this team, fighting for the pennant and losing games at SS, Wilson's a good move.

My $0.02,

Dr D



..it's theoretical and applies to the average team in the average situation.  The Mariners have no one who can adequately play shortstop.  NO ONE!  Betancourt is a -15 run fielder.  -15!!  Ronny Cedeno is a -40 run hitter (and no...I'm not exaggerating).  Chris Woodward is a -20 run hitter and a -5 or -10 run fielder at short.  There's no one there...the cupboard is bare...do you pay 4 million for the rest of Jack Wilson's 2009?  You're darned right you do...if you're the Mariners.
I'm hoping we get Freddy Sanchez somehow though...Sanchez helps out more offensively and plugs the third base hole until Beltre gets back.  If we could get BOTH Sanchez and Wilson...I would be pretty happy about our playoff chances.


In absolute terms, Wilson and Sanchez plug two catastrophic holes, Wilson being an overall-average/solid player and Sanchez admittedly being an above-average player.
The bottom of the lineup would be chipping in, and then the damage done by the top 5 would mean something...
Assume that we are talking about one or the other, but getting BOTH would be equivalent to a really major acquisition...

Daniel Carson's picture

Personally think it's clear that Ronny Cedeno is not an acceptable AL shortstop, and my suspicion is that Zduriencik would almost certainly agree with this.

This popped into my mind as I was reading through Steve Kelley's article for tomorrow's Times, online. He's praising Guti's defense, and then there's this quote from Dr Z.:
"Anybody who's been in this game long enough knows how important the middle of your diamond is," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said.
So, I think you're probably dead-on when you say that Jack Z. isn't too thrilled with what we're getting up the middle. 


Nice to meet you, Daniel.
Capt Jack and Bill James share intuition on that one.  James angles it to "intelligent" players in the middle of the diamond, but for both, it appears to be a Grand Theme.
Viewed in the light that you snap on there, it's pretty clear that Zduriencik would have seen Betancourt as the Mariners' biggest problemo...

okdan's picture

Hey Doc,
For some reason my full name auto-filled in there. I generally go by okdan, I dunno if you remember me from the good 'ol days on Detectovision, heh. West Wing post, anyone?
Anyways, just thought I'd clear that up. Long time reader, trying to chime in a little more often these days.


We remember it well OKDan :- )
Hopefully we'll have a Hottest-Groks style widget running soon and get back to the old-style conversation streams.  Good stuff.

Anonymous's picture

Great evaluation.  This blog is growing on me.  Please keep it up.

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