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C.J. Wilson subtly announces retirement

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C.J. Wilson is retiring from baseball to indulge in the simple life: owning three car dealerships.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

C.J. Wilson appears to be finished with baseball, and he’s taking on a simpler life: that of selling and racing phenomenally expensive cars.

That’s right, Wilson has purchased three car dealerships all located on one lot in Fresno. Furthermore, Wilson appears to be putting his baseball career behind him in lieu of racing cars. When asked about his racing team, Wilson responded:

“Now it’s going to be a big deal. I don’t have to hide it anymore. There are no more contract violations to worry about or anything like that.”

For the full interview where Wilson discusses his new profession, you can watch Tommy Tran of KFSN here.

For some reason, it’s the strange exit from baseball that you’d expect from Wilson. Always a captivating personality, Wilson has long held a passion for cars as well as photography.

The 36-year-old left-hander will leave behind an impressive career cut short by injuries. Having not pitched in the major leagues since 2015 due to nagging shoulder injuries, Wilson will retire as a veteran of 11 seasons spanning 2005-2015.

Wilson’s best seasons were spent as a member of the Rangers, but he didn’t fully hit his stride until converting to a starter at 30-years-old. Over the next four seasons spent between the Rangers and Angels spanning from 2010-2013, Wilson pitched 842 innings and was worth 14.3 WAR according to FanGraphs’ measure. Over that span, just eight starters were more effective than him in the American League.

Perhaps more painful than the injuries will be the memories of how close Wilson came to winning a World Series. During the 2010 season, Wilson helped the Rangers to a 90-win campaign that turned into a World Series berth. Wilson got one start in that year’s World Series, which started as a pitching duel against Matt Cain. Wilson only allowed three hits, though unfortunately one was a solo home run from Edgar Renteria in the bottom of the fifth inning. That was all the Giants would need, as they went on to win the game 9-0 and eventually the series.

Wilson came back even better in 2011, posting what would end up being career bests as a starter in strikeout rate, walk rate, ERA, FIP, and WHIP. The Rangers wrapped up the campaign going 96-66—second-best in the American League. In Wilson’s return to the World Series, he started game one against Chris Carpenter. After hitting Albert Pujols with a pitch to start the fourth inning, Wilson ran into some trouble and allowed two runs. The Rangers would come back to tie it in the top of the following inning with a two-run blast from Mike Napoli. The Cardinals would end up claiming the first game after a sixth inning RBI from Allen Craig.

By the time Wilson’s name came up in the pitching order again, the series was tied 2-2 with the last game on home turf on the line. While Wilson got himself into a bit of trouble early by walking Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, Wilson kept it close enough for some late game heroics courtesy of Napoli once again.

Of course, Wilson was off of the mound when the defining moments of game 6 switched the momentum to the Cardinals’ side and the Rangers never got it back. After forfeiting two leads and being one-strike away from winning the World Series, the Cardinals would win game 6 and close out the necessary game 7 as well. In an all-out effort, Wilson did make a brief appearance in game 7, coming in in a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. While he hit Pujols to allow one run across, Wilson promptly retired the next four batters he faced, going three-up, three-down in the sixth. Unfortunately though, the damage was done, and the Cardinals would tack on one more run to win the game 6-2.

In many ways, Wilson’s legacy is tied to those Rangers seasons. It was his performance in 2011 that earned him a five-year deal with the Angels worth $77.5 million. Coincidentally, the player he hit with pitches twice in the World Series would also be his teammate in Los Angeles, as Pujols was signed to a ten-year deal worth $250 million.

In retrospect, neither deal worked out particularly well for the Angels, as many pundits looked at them as a budding World Series favorite with a growing payroll. Wilson’s retirement is emblematic of the wear that the rigors of a baseball career can have on a pitcher in particular. First converting from reliever to starter, to then carrying a massive workload for consecutive seasons. Bodies can’t hold up to that much continued stress, and Wilson is just the latest career cut short. While we are still learning about better ways to maintain pitcher health, let Wilson’s be a cautionary tale. But, at the very least, it hopefully didn’t affect his hair.


Update: Wilson made an announcement via his personal Twitter account regarding his change in career. The key quote here seems to be: “my name is C.J. Wilson. For the past 16 years I’ve been a pro baseball player. But my whole life I’ve wanted to do something completely different.” You can watch the full video here: