MLB Free Agency 2012: Albert Pujols' Stock Rises, C.J. Wilson's Falls
The Free Agent class of 2012 is large in number (over 170) but small in numbers; that is, numbers produced by those looking to swing a sweet offseason contract.
It's no stretch to state that coming into the postseason, C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols were the two best available options in their respective fields.
It's ridiculous to think that Pujols' lofty per-year demands (some say he's looking for $35 million plus per season) have increased with his outstanding postseason production, but it's not so silly to think that Wilson's stock (and potential yearly value) have plummeted.
Both are young, but no too young. Wilson turns 31 in November, and Pujols turns 32 in January.
There's no sense in wasting much time in talking-up Albert Pujols, as he has been one of the best (if not the best) hitters in Major League Baseball since he exploded onto the scene back in 2001.
Wilson, however, is a relatively new commodity in terms of being a front-of-the-line starting pitcher.
Since recovering from Tommy John surgery very early in his minor league career, Wilson had started exactly six games from 2005 to 2009 with the Rangers. He was moved into the bullpen full-time following the 2005 season.
Out of the bullpen, Wilson had a series of successes and failures. In 2008 he saved 24 games for the Rangers, and did so despite a jaw-dropping 6.02 ERA. 2009 was much better, as he posted a 2.81 ERA with 14 saves working primarily as an eighth-inning man to bridge the gap for then-closer Frankie Francisco.
In Spring Training of 2010, he made it known he wanted to become a member of the rotation, and to most people's surprise won a job as the number two man behind Scott Feldman.
Wilson's 2010 numbers were certainly ace-worthy, as he went 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA. Wilson proved it was no fluke, as his 2011 regular season numbers were even better. He went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA.
Notice how I said "regular season" numbers.
Albert Pujols actually showed some signs of regression—well, at least by his lofty standards. 2011 was the only season in his 10-year (11 seasons) career that he failed to hit over .300 (he'd never hit below .312.)
Come October, though, Pujols has shown that he not only has "plenty left in the tank" but that he has become Wilson's postseason nemesis.
Pujols is batting .416 with five home runs and 16 RBI in the postseason combined. Coming into Game 3 of the World Series Pujols had been 0-7 against the Rangers, but went 5-6 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI as he single-handedly destroyed the Rangers' pitching and improved his World Series batting average by 417 points.
In Wilson's four postseason starts he is 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA.
To his credit, he has pitched better in the World Series, as he is 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA. However, when an ERA barely south of five is seen as an improvement, then you can hardly say his contributions have been ace-worthy.
When the final out of the World Series is recorded and both Wilson and Pujols throw their respective hats into the free agent ring, both players will reap huge financial rewards—as they should.
But Albert Pujols' St. Louis Cardinals are in the World Series because of his contributions, while Wilson's Rangers are in the World Series in spite of his contributions.
Thus, regardless of which team is crowned champion of the 2011 World Series, there will be no doubt over which team's superstar had the biggest positive effect on his club as each blazed their trail through the postseason
Hint: It's not C.J. Wilson.
As more question marks than monetary figures are floating about at this point in free agency, there's still no doubting that both Wilson and Pujols will most likely sign the largest new deals.
There is no room for ambiguity as to which player has earned their future riches the most.
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