2013 Angels in Review: C.J. Wilson

By Michael Hllywa

Nearly two years ago, Angels fans spent a day beside themselves. We watched in shocked glee as news reports spread that the Angels had gone pulled off a coup, signing both Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson on the same day. It was, in every sense of the word, glorious. Since that day it has been, in every sense of the word, frustrating. But that is mostly the fault of Mr. Pujols. Wilson had a terrible second half in 2012, but bounced back in 2013 to be the Angels most reliable – albeit, maddening – starters.

But, after poring over Wilson’s stats from 2013, I have come to the conclusion that a lot of the frustration that was heaved at C.J. during the season was a bit unwarranted. I’m not saying he was lights out from start to finish. It seemed like he had a 30-pitch inning in each one of his starts. But, he still did everything that he was expected to do as the team’s number two starter.

He made 33 starts, he threw 212.1 innings and averaged six and a half innings per start (his second highest in his career). He won 17 games, a team high. His 3.39 ERA was a half a run lower than his 2012 mark. And those stats should satisfy some of you.

Others will say: “Yeah. So? Pitching wins are silly. A pitcher’s ERA is not indicative of his true talent level with regards to run prevention. What about his FIP? His xFIP? WAR? K/9? Is he bringing his walks down?”

And to that I say: “Pipe down. I’m getting there.”

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of FIP or xFIP. Why? Because Joe Blanton routinely has an average to above-average FIP and xFIP. Do you want to argue that Blanton was a good pitcher this season? Yeah, I didn’t think so. But, just for the sake of it, C.J. Wilson posted a 3.51 FIP. So, if your argument is “Maybe he was lucky,” get over it.

Last season, Wilson saw his BB/9 climb back up to four walks per nine innings pitched. This season, he dragged that number down to 3.6. It wasn’t much of an improvement, but it was an improvement nonetheless. His K/9 was back up at 8.0, and he posted a bWAR (Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement) of 3.4.

Old school stats, new school stats, whatever your fancy, C.J. Wilson was a solid to sometimes better than average starting pitcher for the Angels in 2013. And I will still bang the “He hasn’t thrown that many innings in his career” drum to stave off those of you who think that he may be heading into decline since 2014 will be his age-33 season.

The specter of the long inning will always hang over a C.J. Wilson start, it’s a part of his game. But being a smart pitcher is also a part of his game. He uses multiple arm slots and an arsenal of pitches to keep hitters off balance. And I for one am very happy that he is signed to be an Angel for the next three seasons. Very happy.