C.J. Wilson and the Over-hyping of Playoff Numbers


One of the worst outcomes about the baseball post-season is that players are often turned into to heroes or zeroes based on their play in the post-season. This has happened numerous times in the past. An example of a player being overrated due to their post-season success is former Florida Marlins fan favorite Cody Ross. I am not going to deny it, I was a big fan of Cody Ross when he was tenured with the Marlins. I wanted to see him succeed more then anything else. I was shocked into disbelief when the Marlins traded Ross to the San Francisco Giants and got nothing in return. In the Marlins defense, they were not likely to get much in return for Ross and they had to get Cameron Maybin in the lineup full-time. That season, Ross looked to be an average player and nothing more. Then the post-season came along and people actually started to believe Ross was a star player. Ross went on to win the NLCS MVP. Most teams were extremely lucky that Ross was not a free agent, or otherwise, they would have vastly overpaid for an average player.

One of the best examples of a player being thrashed for their post-season play is Alex Rodriguez and his “failures” in the playoffs. A look at Rodriguez’s overall playoff numbers would not paint the picture that most people see or want to see. I am not getting into the Rodriguez mess right now though. I will however talk about another player that is getting killed for his lack of post-season success. It has reached the point where people have begun to doubt his regular season success. That player is C.J. Wilson.

Let me get this started by saying, yes, I have been a huge advocate of the Marlins making a big run at Texas Rangers left-handed starter, C.J. Wilson. I will be the first to admit it, Wilson has not looked spectacular this post-season. Wilson this post-season has made five starts while posting a inflated 6.41 walk rate. Compare that to his 2.98 walk rate in 220+ innings and that that number looks awfully ridiculous. However, the 223-innings are a better indication of Wilson’s talent than the 16 innings he has tossed this post-season. The assumption that a lot of baseball “experts” may make is that “Wilson clearly does not have the make up or the nerves to handle post-season baseball.” That is ridiculous claim. Wilson is no worse a pitcher then he was when the season ended. On Fangraphs, Chris Cwik posted a wonderful article on this subject. Here is a little of what he had to say.

"Since 2010 — when Wilson made the conversion to starting pitcher — he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball. Over that period, Wilson ranks 9th in WAR among starting pitchers — better than Tim Lincecum, David Price and Jon Lester."

Those numbers are a lot more believable then the numbers Wilson has posted this season. Those are legitimate numbers. I have heard a lot of “Wilson has proved this post-season that he is not a true ace.” I will take the regular season numbers and say that he is. I think the Marlins would still be very wise at making a run at him.

Most GM’s do not get caught up in this crap. You can bet the Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox, and other suitors will still be lined up. One thing that Wilson’s post-season will do to his value is it will bring down the asking price. Instead of being offered probably a five-year contract worth about $18-20 million a season, Wilson will likely see a contract around $15 million a season. That is not a bad deal for a pitcher the caliber of Wilson. I think a fair offer from the Marlins would be at five-years $75-80 million.

The Marlins have shied away from long-term contracts for pitchers before, but Wilson’s lack of post-season success is not going to be one of them. The Marlins may point to his lack of experience or the risk of injury with a pitcher on a long-term deal. The teams that end up having success are the teams that usually take the biggest risks. And you do not need to be a big market team with a huge payroll to do that. Look at the Tampa Bay Rays last season with Johnny Damon. He paid off wonderfully for them. The Marlins need to make a big signing this off-season, and I still believe C.J. Wilson is that guy.