You can believe the .291 batting average if you want. That batting average, of course, is based on 39 hits over 134 at bats. I think all of you are rightly aware that 134 at bats is a small sample size - too small from which to draw any conclusions.
Alternatively, you can believe the 87.4% contact rate. That contact rate is based on 33 misses over 261 swings - a substantially bigger sample size. Not a huge one, to be sure, but bigger by 127, which, when we're dealing with numbers this low, is a significant step.
Josh Wilson's Major League contact rate, prior to 2010? 83.7%. He's made contact more often this year than in seasons past, with the result being fewer strikeouts and more balls in play, with the result of that being more hits. And Josh Wilson + hits = a better Josh Wilson.
Wilson, of course, is well over his head with a .728 OPS, a mark no one's ever dreamed he would reach. What happens when a guy plays over his head, though, is that people start to look into why it's happening, and with Wilson, at least there's some evidence that it's not a complete BABIP fluke. Yes, many more balls have been dropping in for him this season than one would expect, but by putting more balls in play, Wilson's given himself more opportunities to reach base.
He's not a good bat, but it's worth considering that, at 29, he's gotten a little better. Which would be a big step. Maybe not for us - Josh Wilson will never be good - but certainly for Josh Wilson, who's been the 26th man out of camp more times than he's ever wanted. Josh Wilson needed to get a little better to ensure a more permanent Major League career, and it looks like he may have done just that.
The other point of interest? I don't think I'm alone in saying that Wilson's looked better in the field than I expected, and, statistically, he's played a pretty good short for the time that he's been there. He hasn't made too many errors, he hasn't had trouble turning double plays, and I haven't noticed grounders sneaking through that I thought could've been grabbed. Josh isn't Jack, as he simply wasn't blessed with that kind of nimbleness or agility, but I'm willing to believe that Josh Wilson is an average defensive shortstop. Which, again, would be a little step up from what I thought of him a few months ago.
I didn't like it when Jack Hannahan got hurt. I didn't like it, because I was a fan of Hannahan's defense, handedness, and offensive skillset. I didn't like that our best alternative to Hannahan was Josh Wilson. But Wilson's come up and, though he's played above himself, he's done a good job. He's done a good job, and flashed some indicators that maybe he's better than just a replacement-level nobody. Plugging in average defense and his rest-of-season performance projections put his current true talent about a full win higher than I thought it was.
It's interesting. Wilson, of course, could easily get worse from this point forward. His defense could slip, or his contact rate could regress. We can only evaluate his 2010 on very limited information, and limited information comes with error bars. There is reason to hope, though. There is reason to hope that our write-off utility guy might actually be better than we expected - about as good as the previous utility guy we were all sad to lose.
I guess celebrating that makes us kind of pathetic.