2011 Season In Review: David Wright

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The New York Mets went 77-85 in 2011. As suggested by the sub-par record, there were a fair share of ups and downs throughout the season. “2011 Season in Review,” which will be an ongoing series, will analyze every single Mets player who picked up a ball or glove in 2011, for better or worse. This particular “2011 Season in Review” will take a look at third baseman, David Wright.

David Wright is in an interesting position.  He is currently the most recognizable player on the Mets and the face of the franchise, yet meanwhile is the subject of constant trade rumors while fans debate whether he should stay or go.  2011 was somewhat of a lost year for David, but that doesn’t mean he should be written off as an important piece of the Mets puzzle.

There is no denying, however, that Wright got off to a pretty bad start.  In his first 39 games (172 plate appearances), Wright hit just .226/.337/.404 with six homers and 18 RBI.  Then, on May 17, Wright was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back.  Initially, the injury wasn’t thought to keep Wright off the field for that long.  However, the injury kept Wright on the shelf until July 22nd.

After returning from the disabled list, Wright was more productive.  Over the final 63 games of the season (275 PA), Wright batted .272/.349/.440 with eight long balls and 43 RBI.  He also made one appearance at shortstop in August.

On the season, Wright hit .254/.345/.427 with 14 homers and 61 RBI.  While these numbers are a far cry from the .311/.394/.534 slash line he averaged from 2005-08 (with 30 homers and 115 RBI per 162 games), it is hard to fully judge Wright’s 2011 performance due to his extended absence.  There were also some positives, such as a walk rate of 11.6%, an improvement over his 10.3% clip in 2010, and a strikeout rate of 21.7%, his lowest since 2008 (although it’s still a little high).  Wright’s swing and miss rate also dipped to 7.7%, also his lowest mark since 2008.

Defensively, Wright continued to struggle.  He committed 19 (12 fielding, 7 throwing) errors in 267 chances (a .929 fielding percentage) while costing the team seven runs in terms of defensive runs saved.  Wright also posted a -10.5 Ultimate Zone Rating.

So what happens now for Wright?  That depends on how large of a role has been played by the Citi Field dimensions, both physically and psychologically.  According to one study, Wright would’ve hit 13 more dingers over the past three seasons if the new dimensions would have been in place from the ballpark’s inception.  Whether Wright will actually launch more home runs in 2012 remains to be seen.  Wright is also just one year removed from a .283/.354/.503 season with 29 homers.  Yes, 17 of those home runs were on the road, but the 12 hit at Citi Field in 2010 outnumbered his entire home run total in 2009.  The new dimensions should only increase Wright’s power.

Whether the twenty-nine year old Wright will return to his pre-2009 form is uncertain.  His defense has declined and the strikeouts have increased sharply, but he is still capable of being a productive hitter.  The question then becomes, is Wright more valuable as a member of the Mets or as a trade chip?

Wright is owed $15 million this season with a $16 million club option for 2013, which may be voided if Wright is dealt.  If the Mets are out of contention and Wright is having a strong season, he could very well have value on the trade market in the same manner as Carlos Beltran.  The problem the Mets would then face, besides trading the face of the franchise, is that there isn’t a third baseman waiting in the wings to replace number five (Daniel Murphy doesn’t count, although he is an option).  At triple-A, Zach Lutz is perpetually injured and Jefry Marte and Aderlin Rodriguez, who played this past season at St. Lucie and Savannah, respectively, are still a few years away and have some holes in their games.  The club could always receive a third base prospect in a trade, but replacing Wright in the short term would still be an issue.

Bill James predicts Wright to hit .286/.375/.487 with 22 homers in 2012, a vast improvement over last year.  Most Mets fans would probably take those numbers, at the very least because it would give Wright some value in a trade.  No matter the opinion of Wright, he is still the most recognizable team figure heading into 2012 and will look to rebound from his injury plagued 2011 season.

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Tags: 2011 Season In Review 2011 Season In Review David Wright Amazins Citi Field Dan Murphy Daniel Murphy David Wright David Wright Injury David Wright Stress Fracture David Wright Trade Matt Kaufman Mets Mets David Wright New York New York Mets Rising Apple Sandy Alderson

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