What Happens When David Wright Comes Back Down to Earth?
It’s too soon to say David Wright is struggling — he’s still hitting .382 — but it appears that his godly start to the season might be winding down. He is 0-for-9 in the last three games, and he doesn’t seem quite as impossible to get out as he was for the first two months.
Wright’s performance has been a godsend, but the reality is that he will soon become human again — maybe he already has. The question is, if he does go cold, will the Mets lineup be able to shoulder the blow?
The Mets are 15-3 this season in games in which Wright has at least one RBI. With Ike Davis providing almost no production and Lucas Duda playing well but not great, Wright has largely carried the weight in the middle of the lineup. His 32 walks and .484 on-base percentage reflect not only pitchers’ fear of facing David, but also their lack of fear of facing the hitters around him. What happens when they have nothing to fear?
In previous years, I might have said that what happens is the Mets stop scoring runs and stop winning. Wright’s streakiness in the past has only been accentuated by the fact that he hasn’t had guys around him to pick him up. This year, the beauty of the Mets has been that they do just enough to win — different players step up each day, and the team as a whole takes a good enough approach at the plate to score some runs.
If you look at last year’s lineup, with Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, and compare it to this year’s, it may seem obvious that 2011 was the better offense. And yet, I think the 2012 Mets may be better suited to endure a D-Wright slump. Just as David’s red-hot streak is ending, Ike’s ice-cold streak seems to be melting away. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is out of his slump and is putting together some incredible at-bats. Mike Baxter, of all people, is hitting. With Josh Thole hurt, Rob Johnson and Mike Nickeas have come up big.
The Mets may not have the roster of a playoff team, or even a winning team, and especially with all of their injuries it will be tough to sustain what they’re doing now. But if Wright stops being their Superman for a while, don’t expect them to wave the white flag. That’s not what the 2012 Mets are about.