Brian Wilson Will Exercise 2015 Option Because, Duh!

Brian Wilson Pitching

Last year, we saw the resurgence of Brian Wilson. Many Giants fans LOL’d at the signing, and they LOL’d even harder when the Dodgers gave him $10 million contract with a $9.5 million player option. “We’ll have the loudest of LOL’s, San Francisco!” Instead we got a knuckle-balling freak and Kenley Jansen. The balls were blue, and mighty sore.

Wilson’s 2014 numbers were unimpressive. His walk rate topped at 13%, much higher than 8.6% in 2013. Conversely, his strikeout rate dipped this season. In 2013, he was striking out 26.5% of batters faced. In 2014, he was striking out 24.2% of the batters he faced. Of course, 26.5% to 24.2% is not that much of a difference and a 4.4% change in walk rate doesn’t really explain his decline. So what made Wilson so damn frustrating?

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Season LOB% BABIP LD% GB%
2013 91.7% .250 18.8% 56.3%
2014 74.7% .336 23.9% 38.1%

Brian Wilson was leaving more men on base in 2013. In fact, in 2013, less than 10% of the men Wilson allowed on base came around to score. Come 2014, Wilson was leaving nearly 75% runners allowed on base. In other words, Wilson was now allowing one out of four runners allowed to score. Wilson also benefited from a higher ground ball rate, plus a lower BABIP and line drive rate in 2013. However, that begs the question, “Why did those stats moving in the wrong direction in 2014?”

While on the Dodgers, Wilson’s primary pitch was his cut fastball, it was thrown almost 75% of the time. That changed in 2014. Wilson’s cutter usage was below 50%. In fact, he didn’t start throwing it nearly as much as 2013 until September of 2014. Unfortunately, another problem surfaced.

If you were to ask Brian Wilson about his velocity in 2014, he would have told you that he’s saving the heat for October. Sadly, the heat never came. And by the looks of it, it’s not coming back.

Wilson’s cutter, his primary pitch, was simply not effective. The velocity is no longer there, which likely explains why this season he was getting hit harder instead of inducing ground balls. As long as he is walking batters, and getting dinged with a slower cut fastball, Dodgers fans will continue to lament Wilson taking the mound. They’ll just have to deal with it because with his overall velocity declining, I highly doubt he can sucker another team into a $9.5 million dollar option.

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