Since we started chatting over a month ago, C.J. Wilson has been a very popular topic for readers, so I am going to give you my projection for him for 2011.
Wilson made 33 starts in 2010, going 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 204 innings pitched. He had a 170-93 K/BB rate and a HR/FB rate of 5.3%. Wilson is a solid groundball pitcher as he induced ground balls at a 49.2% clip last year. His groundball and HR/FB rates were what kept his ERA so low and I am curious if he can duplicate his 2010 season.
What worries me is that 2010 was his first year in the Rangers rotation after 4 years in their bullpen where he accumulated 51 saves over that same timeframe. Wilson has always been a very good groundball pitcher as he produced GB rates of 49.2%, 49.2%, 49.3% and 55.4% in his 4 years in the pen, so it is safe to say he owns this skill. Owing a solid GB rate pitching in the Ballpark at Arlington, which is a hitters park, is as asset to the Rangers.
Moving to his HR/FB rate, he has produced HR/FB rates of 19.4%, 8.2, 16.3%, 6.3% and last year's 5.3%. The trend is going down, probably helped by his solid GB rate, but I worry that if his HR/FB rate increases a few ticks in 2011, say closer to 10%, his ERA will suffer.
Wilson also walks alot of batters, as his BB rate in 2010 was 4.10 per nine innings, which is exactly his career average. The walks did not hurt him last year, but we all know that can't last much longer. Plus, Wilson was a bit lucky last year as his BABIP was just .271 vs a career BABIP of .295.
Should his HR/FB rate and BABIP increase in 2011, I can see his ERA approaching 4.00 and his WHIP increase to the mid 1.30 range. I don't see him winning 15 games again, but wins are unpredictable. Should the Rangers move Neftali Feliz to the rotation, which I just learned is their plan in spring training, the back end of their bullpen may suffer a bit, thus impacting his win totals.
So for 2011, I see 12-13 wins, 4.00 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 165 strikeouts.