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Fluke or Nuke: Jack Wilson

One of the hotter trade commodities that didn't get dealt last July was Pirates' shortstop Jack Wilson. Reportedly the Tigers were in hot pursuit of the soon to be 30 year old, but for whatever reasons couldn't reach a deal with then general manager Dave Littlefield. Neal Huntington has taken over and again rumors will be swirling around about Wilson's availability coming off of a .296/.350/.440 season which raises eyebrows and questions about how much general managers should look into this season's performance by the usually defensive orientated shortstop.

Wilson's 2007 was abnormal since it was the second consecutive season in which his batting average raised by more than .015 points - .257 to .273 to .296 - and his on-base percentage as well as slugging percentage did similar hops - from .299 to .316 to .350 and from .363 to .370 to .440. Clearly that indicates the rest of his stats have leaped, but have they done so enough to suggest a return of sorts to prior years would spell collapse for Wilson?

His BABIP sits at .308, his xBABIP is also .308 - last year his BABIP was .298 and his xBABIP was .351, in 2005 his BABIP was .274, his xBABIP was .315. That suggest that Wilson has been highly unlucky in the past three years. It seems his technique at the plate has also gotten better; his walking rates have steadily increased, 2.4% in the past three years, while his strikeout rates have dropped 0.3 in that same span.

Wilson's forte has always been with the glove, but this year his RZR (Range Zone Rating) continued its downward trend, dropping for the second straight year. That being said his OOZ (Out of Zone plays) increased by 28 plays - indicating that his range is better than the designed zone. While looking over his numbers I'm amazed at how good his 2005 looks on paper; a .861 RZR, 63 OOZ, and 377 plays made.

Taking everything into consideration - including Wilson's splits, which show him displaying more power away from the slightly favorable to pitchers' PNC Park - there's no reason to believe Wilson will collapse next year. In fact put in the right situation he may flourish even more.

Hunting recently hinted that the prices of his players on the trade block would be "outrageous" and with a depleted farm system and very little to build with - starting pitching aside - it might be time to move Wilson, Jason Bay, and possibly Salomon Torres in trades. It's just a shame that Dave Littlefield dealt Brent Lillibridge last year, he could've stepped right in as the Pirates starting shortstop this year.