Jack Wilson Gets Another Chance

ATLANTA: Jack Wilson #1 of the Atlanta Braves turns a double play against Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Jack Wilson has never been to the playoffs. Jack Wilson has signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves. Jack Wilson has another shot at going to the playoffs.

I've written about Jack Wilson's story before. Now I get to write a little about it again. Why is that? Because of this news, from Mark Bowman:

#Braves have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Jack Wilson. He will likely serve as Pastornicky's backup.

The Pastornicky here is 22-year-old Tyler Pastornicky. He's a shortstop who's never once played in the major leagues. Last season he hit pretty well in double-A, and then hit better than that in triple-A. The Braves are looking for him to start in 2012, and presumably for subsequent seasons as well. That's interesting.

But the Braves needed a backup. Some Pastornicky insurance, in case Pastornicky has trouble. Re-enter Jack Wilson. That's more interesting, to me.

Jack Wilson's a 34-year-old infielder with the legs of a 65-year-old catcher. He has experience and he has fantastic defensive ability, even now, but he gets hurt. It happens. Because of his injury problems, and because of his light bat, there stood a chance that 2011 would be the final season of Wilson's major league career.

And that would've been tragic, in a non-literal way. See, Jack Wilson has never been to the playoffs. Maybe it's not that surprising for a near-career Pirate, but among active players, he's third on this most unfortunate list. It looked like he'd finally make the playoffs with the Braves last year, since the Braves had a Wild Card lead of 8½ games when they acquired Wilson with a month to play, but the Braves melted down. On the final day of the season, they blew a late lead and were eliminated. Wilson, for his part, committed a critical error.


That could've been the last game Wilson ever played. In 2011, he posted a 59 OPS+. In 2010, he posted a 68 OPS+. His legs aren't getting any stronger. His defense isn't getting any better. There were no guarantees that Wilson would have any suitors as a free agent, if he became a free agent at all.

He did become a free agent. He did have suitors. And now he's signed with one of them - re-signed with one of them - to a major league contract. It's worth $1 million, with incentives.

So the Jack Wilson playoff dream is still alive. He might only be a backup, but that's a job, and Pastornicky might be sufficiently raw that Wilson gets serious time. The big question is, are the Braves good enough? Could the Braves carry Wilson to October?

Here are these projections. They're a little bit old. They're greatly imperfect. But they say the Braves are all right. Not Phillies-good, but approximately Giants-good or Diamondbacks-good. Good enough to make the playoffs, given a little fortune. And remember that this could be the year that MLB institutes a second Wild Card.

This could be the year, indeed. This could be the year. This could end up a year like all the other years in the end, but for Jack Wilson, it's another year ahead. All anybody ever really wants is a chance.

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