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One Night Only: C.J. Wilson’s WAR

This edition of One Night Only is brought to you by the unpopular imagination. Which, it’s kinda like the popular imagination, except with braces and stuff.

(NERD scores in parentheses. All times Eastern.)

Minnesota (7) at Texas (8) | 8:05pm ET
Starting Pitchers
Twins: Brian Duensing (6)
84.1 IP, 5.12 K/9, 2.03 BB/9, .249 BABIP, 53.6% GB, 6.3% HR/FB, 3.99 xFIP

Rangers: C.J. Wilson (3)
158.0 IP, 7.29 K/9, 4.04 BB/9, .257 BABIP, 49.9% GB, 5.3% HR/FB, 4.30 xFIP

Opening Statement
These are the same teams as last night. And, owing to tomorrow night’s matchup between nerdthrobs Francisco Liriano and Cliff Lee — well, it’ll probably be the same teams tomorrow night.

So sue me.

That said, there are some other sweet games tonight — which, you can see NERDed the eff out at the bottom of this document.

On C.J. Wilson’s NERD Score
It’s too low, probably. Here’re four reasons why I’m saying that:

1. NERD weighs xFIP pretty heavily. Wilson’s got a 4.30 xFIP, which is merely league-average-ish for a starter. But he also throws a cut fastball, which generally suppresses home runs at a better rate than the league-average of 11% HR/FB. Thus, his 3.66 FIP might actually be more representative of his talent here. Or, maybe 4.00 would be a fairer mark. In any case, it’s probably something lower than 4.30.

2. Wilson’s been crazy good this month — and crazy dominant in his last two starts. His line over those two starts (at Baltimore and home versus Boston) looks exactly like this: 16.1 IP, 20 K, 2 BB, 21 GB on 35 BIP (for a 60% GB rate, exactly). That gives Wilson about a 2.10 xFIP over his last two starts.

3. Wilson’s conversion from reliever to starter is still interesting as a narrative — especially if, as seems to be the case, he’s still figuring out what it means to be a starter.

4. While Wilson doesn’t have the nerd cred of a Brian Bannister or Max Scherzer, he appears to be a genuinely enthusiastic and thoughtful person — or, at least that’s what I’d guess from his Twitter feed. In the world I want to live in, thoughtful and enthusiastic people are successful.

On Denard Span, Jason Repko, and Center Field
The Twitters have recently served as a home to a number of Twins fans who’re saying they’d like to see Jason Repko take over for Denard Span in center field — at least on a temporary basis.

At first blush, it seems like a local, very enthusiastic fanbase overreacting to a run of bad luck on the part of one of their better players. Span has slumped lately, slashing .234/.280/.299 (with a .269 BABIP) during the month of August. His season numbers — .267/.336/.352, .296 BABIP, .317 wOBA, 98 wRC+, 2.2 WAR — really aren’t bad, although they’re underwhemling relative to last year’s .359 wOBA (122 wRC+).

Meanwhile, here’s what Repko’s done through 73 PA this season: .246/.319/.477, .283 BABIP .341 wOBA, 114 wRC+. His contact skills are poor, as his low batting average and 24.6% strikeout rate suggests, but otherwise he’s hit pretty well.

Span and Repko, The Remix (Featuring D.J. Parker Hageman)
In any case, I wanted to ask someone about this whole Span/Repko situation — someone who follows the Twins closely and is both (a) saber-friendly and (b) kinda foul-mouthed.

Viva la Parker Hageman of Over the Baggy.

To Hageman I posed this question: “Who should start center field in this game and why?”

Here’s what he said (minus some terrible comments about my mother):

With the Rangers’ CJ Wilson being one of the more lethal left-handed killers in the game, the Twins will certainly contemplate resting slumping center fielder Denard Span in favor of Jason Repko. Repko is very capable of spelling Denard, if for one night only.

Wilson has been one bad mofo against left-handed opponents this season. He’s viciously struck out 28% of all same-sided opponents faced while keeping them to a .105 batting average, currently baseball’s best in this split. That’s cold-blooded. Interestingly enough, Span has actually fared better against his southpawed-kin this year. Still, that is against human left-handers, not CJ Wilson.

Meanwhile, the right-handed hitting Repko has been a wonderful spare part for the club. His output is a reflection of sample-sizing, as he is frequently a strikeout waiting to happen, but he has contributed when needed. What’s more is that he has supplied more ball-shagging abilities than the Kardashian sisters, giving the Twins an above-average defender in Span’s absence.

Resting Span in this contest would be the least sadistic thing to do. After all, considering he is suffering from a well-documented case of walk depression, sending him to the plate against Wilson would qualify as a form of abuse, right?

If I Had My Druthers
• There would be an actual movie called C.J. Wilson’s WAR.
• Tom Hanks would play C.J. Wilson in it.
Colby Lewis would also play C.J. Wilson.

Also Playing
These games are very likely playing at some kind of sporty channel near you.

pNERD = Pitcher NERD
Game = Time and Average NERD for Game
* = Estimated NERD