C.J. Wilson’s Breakout Year

C.J. Wilson's switch back to starting has gone phenomenally well – his 3.30 ERA ranks 14th in the American League.  The lefty will be arbitration-eligible one last time for 2011, and he should get a multimillion dollar bump from this year's $3.1MM salary.

Wilson has done a nice job keeping the ball on the ground, as his 49.2% rate ranks 15th in the AL among those with 100 innings pitched.  He's needed the accompanying 15 double plays, as his 66 walks lead the league.  Stats like SIERA and xFIP, meant to strip out some of things the pitcher has less control over, suggest an ERA around 4.50 is more reasonable moving forward.

Should the Rangers attempt to sell high and trade Wilson in the offseason?  If new Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg follows through and signs Cliff Lee, the potential $20MM+ salary could be partially offset by moving Wilson.  It's not as if the Rangers are going to fool an uneducated team about Wilson's peripheral stats not matching his ERA.  But they can point to these facts: he doesn't turn 30 until November, he's very good against lefties, and he gets groundballs.  Acquiring Wilson could appeal to teams unwilling to give multiple years to free agents Ted Lilly, Javier Vazquez, Hiroki Kuroda, Jorge de la Rosa, or Carl Pavano.

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