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August 1, 2006

Breaking Down Craig Wilson (and Cory Lidle)
by SG

So the Yankees traded Shawn Chacon, who has been awful after a great second half last season. In return they got Craig Wilson from Pittsburgh. Here's what Wilson brings to the team.

Wilson's career lines


2001 24 PIT NL 88 158 27 49 3 1 13 32 3 1 15 53 .310 .390 .589
2002 25 PIT NL 131 368 48 97 16 1 16 57 2 3 32 116 .264 .355 .443
2003 26 PIT NL 116 309 49 81 15 4 18 48 3 1 35 89 .262 .360 .511
2004 27 PIT NL 155 561 97 148 35 5 29 82 2 2 50 169 .264 .354 .499
2005 28 PIT NL 59 197 23 52 14 1 5 22 3 0 30 69 .264 .387 .421
2006 29 PIT NL 85 255 38 68 11 2 13 41 1 0 24 88 .267 .339 .478
Total 634 1848 282 495 94 14 94 282 14 7 186 584 .268 .360 .486

Wilson does strike out a lot, but then again, so does Andy Phillips.

In his career, Wilson's had better success against lefties.

Vs. L: .302/.404/.556
Vs. R: .255/.343/.460

The scouting report, courtesy of Wikipedia.
While on a hot streak, Wilson hits for good power to all fields, waiting for a good pitch to hit and driving it with authority. If he does not get anything to hit, he will take a walk. When he is cold, he tries to pull everything, leaving him vulnerable to breaking balls on the outside corner. He can crush a mistake pitch, but usually he strikes out or grounds out to the left side of the infield. Wilson is versatile defensively, playing first base and right field, although he is mediocre at both positions. He was a catcher in the minor leagues, but the Pirates do not consider him good enough defensively to play the position in the major leagues regularly. He has below-average speed, but has good judgment about when to use it.

Wilson's been worth about 7.5 runs above the average player this season, 1 run above the average 1B. Over the remaining 60 games he'd be about +1 above average at 1B. Andy Phillips has been 12 runs worse than the average 1B this season offensively, so the difference between he and Wilson looks like around 10 runs over the rest of the season.

Here are the stats on Wilson's defense by zone rating.

As you can see, Wilson's basically Bernie in RF (career -36/162 in RF), but about average at first base. If we assume he remains average, we'd say Wilson would cost the Yankees about 2 runs on defense over the remaining 60 games of the year, compared to Phillips who would be about a +2 over the rest of the season if he continued to play as he has to this point. So the Yankees net around eight runs, a little less than one win. A nice little upgrade at a minimal cost. Thumbs up!

Reader George asked if there was any projection for how Cory Lidle would do as a Yankee. Here's a stab at it.

The Yankees have actually outperformed Philadelphia this season in defensive efficiency(converting balls into play into outs). The Yankees are seventh best in the majors at .707, Philadlphia is 27th at .682. I don't think defensive efficiency is a good measure of team defense because it does not consider types of balls that are hit into play, and removes the pitchers out of the equation.

By zone rating, Philadelphia's defense has been 13 runs better than the Yankees. However, the bulk of that difference is in the OF (read Bernie Wlliams), as the two infields have both made nine fewer plays than average. Since it would seem Bernie's role is going to be reduced, I think the Yankee defense going forward will be close enough to Philly's to remove it from the equation.

Lidle's BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .299, which is much better than the Philly staff as a whole. The Yankees as a team are allowing a BABIP of .293. Therefore, I would hope that he shouldn't show much impact in this area.

The big difference then with Lidle will be moving from one stadium to another, and switching from the NL to the AL. The chart below has three lines. Line 1 is Lidle's raw stats in Philadelphia. Line 2 is his stats adjusted for a neutral National League park. Line 3 will be Lidle's raw stats adjusted to the American League and Yankee Stadium. Applying generic park factors to individual players is not very predictive, because players are not all impacted the same way by the park they play in. But, since this is all theoretical, I'm doing it anyway.

So park and league adjusting Lidle gives you a 4.90 ERA going forward. Lidle came into the season with a projection of an ERA in the 4.40 area, for the NL. The AL boosts scoring by 6%, so his projected ERA would have been around 4.65. I think something in the 4.80-4.90 ERA area is about what we can expect. Hopefully that translates to six innings and three runs most of the time.