Here are Andy Baggarly’s thoughts in a nutshell:
If Wilson keeps racking up saves, then his off-field activities will remain nothing more than what we in the newspaper business call “brite” stories. But if he doesn’t’ get the job done, then it’s a different story altogether.Baggs is right about those saves. Wilson has saved more games in baseball since 2008 (three seasons) than any reliever in baseball. His 127 is five ahead of fist-swinging Francisco Rodriguez and 11 more than Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon. But let’s set those saves aside for now, you know, because they don’t tell us much (if anything).
There are only four relievers over that period ahead of Wilson in Wins above Replacement (WAR) according to FanGraphs – he’s posted 5.7 wins these past three seasons. They are Rivera (6.9), Matt Thornton (6.6), Jonathan Broxton (6.2) and Papelbon (6.1). In 2010, Wilson’s 2.7 wins trailed only Mr. 15.99 strikeouts per nine innings in WAR, aka Carlos Marmol, who was worth 3.1 wins to lead all relievers.
Of those relievers who have thrown at least 150 innings in that span, his 10.45 strikeouts per nine is twelfth best. There are 20 relievers with an ERA lower than his 2.97 since 2008, but only eight boast a FIP (fielding independent pitching) better than his 2.82. That bodes well for his ability to continue doing exactly what he’s been doing: spending his days as an elite reliever.
So as long as he keeps throwing his well-placed, 96.1 mile an hour fastball (on average), as well as mixing in that cutter he used to dispatch Ryan Howard in the 2010 NLCS and to cut down Nelson Cruz in the World Series, Bochy isn’t going to care if he’s visiting Charlie Sheen, arriving in Scottsdale in an unmarked police cruiser or showing up dressed as a sea captain on The George Lopez show.
I wouldn’t spend too many hours worrying about Wilson. He conditions his body like a Navy SEAL. Call me when his save situations start giving you flashbacks of Matt Herges, Tyler Walker, Dustin Hermanson and Armando Benitez.