Giants Closer, Brian Wilson
One hundred and seventy saves since 2006. Three-time N.L. All-Star. One World Series title. An iconic following. Marketing gold. A litany of quotes.
Brian Wilson has lived and thrived in the pressure cooker that is the closer's role. His dominance ranks among the top of all closers since his 41-save campaign in 2008. Wilson is now faced with mounting pressure to help return the San Francisco Giants to the playoffs and a personal image that may finally be reaching the end of the line.
The 2012 season will undoubtedly be the most pressure-filled of Wilson's career. And chances are, he wouldn't want it any other way. FACT.
Will his arm hold together?
Brian Wilson suffered an oblique injury that continued to haunt him throughout the year. Known for his warrior mentality, Wilson quickly returned after the spring training injury and a brief DL stint. However, he was never quite right and finally had to be shut down with an elbow injury in September.
Yes, I know what you are saying: "But he pitched almost a full season and saved 36 games."
But the dominant Wilson Giants fans had come to know was never there. And in pitching through the oblique injury he put unneeded stress on his elbow.
Trust me, I'm a doctor.
Wilson will have to overcome his injuries and not re-aggravate them with his now-legendary workout sessions.
Here is Wilson in what I can only assume is mile 200 of his daily workout routine.
Meanwhile, here is Beach Boys singer Brian Wilson eating a record. Nope, not crazy at all.
Brian Wilson might be the incumbent Giants closer, but Sergio Romo is breathing down his neck. Last season Romo completed a reliever's perfect game when he retired 30 straight batters over 10 innings. Many view Romo as the closer of the future given his strike rate and on-field competitiveness.
Furthermore, Romo might be the Giants' best option when you consider Wilson's soon-to-be-escalating contract.
Fancy suit, paid for by Larry Baer's checkbook
Brian Wilson will earn $8.5 million this year, his last year under contact for the Giants. The free-agent closer market is a tricky thing. Jonathan Papelbon signed a four-year $50 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason—an incredibly lucrative deal for the 31-year-old.
Wilson is just 29 years old, and could be in line for a deal similar to Papelbon's. If so, the Giants will be forced to move him or let him walk. Meanwhile, the pressure will mount on Wilson to secure what will likely be his last big free-agent contract.
Brian Wilson's antics have reached a level of hype fans haven't seen in baseball since, well, ever. He's like a character from BASEketball.
There will come a point in Wilson's career when the antics are no longer justified by the stats. Could that year be 2012?
Post Save Celebration
When your job is to close out Major League Baseball games, pressure is kind of implied.
When your method of closing out said Major League Baseball games is to not give in even if that means walking the bases loaded, pressure is multiplied.
Wilson's style of play lends itself to theatrics. It also lends itself to me screaming at my TV. In 2012 the pressure will continue to mount on Wilson, and my blood.