David Wright’s Second Half Struggles

By Matt Musico

While the Mets were busy surprising Major League Baseball with their 46-40 first half, David Wright was at the center of all the action, putting together another All-Star season, and one that looked to be his best yet. As New York’s franchise third baseman was getting ready to participate in the midsummer classic, he was hitting a hefty .351/.441/.563 with 11 homers and 59 RBI. What was most impressive was that his walks (50) outnumbered his strikeouts (47). However, as the Mets have struggled in the second half, so has Wright.

David has done a lot of things Wright (yes, pun intended) this season that has really turned his career around after a few sub-par seasons. He’s hitting line drives 22% of the time, which is a 4% increase from 2011, and he’s hitting fly balls 34.6% of the time, which is a 5% decrease from last season. He’s also drastically cut down his strikeouts; in 2010, he whiffed 161 times in 587 at-bats, and took the walk of shame 97 times in 389 at-bats last year. In 2012, it’s taken him 505 ABs to reach 97 strikeouts. His walk trend has been on a steady incline, as he’s gone from 69 in ’10 to 52 in ’11, and now 76 in ’12.

Sep 11, 2012; Flushing, NY,USA; New York Mets third baseman David Wright (5) at bat during the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

His second half line of .256/.341/.399 is concerning, but not at all alarming because of what’s happened to the Mets offense over the last three months. In the first half, New York led the league in two-out runs and were second in  baseball with a .268 average with runners in scoring position. Since the All-Star game, they’ve been hitting on the interstate in that situation, the second-lowest average in the game. So, when I see that Wright has only hit two home runs since July 27th, I attribute it to him trying to do too much in shouldering the load of a struggling offense. He’s been chasing more pitches out of the zone than he was in the first half (26 BBs and 50 K’s in 203 ABs), simply because he knows he is the best offensive weapon for the Mets right now. Out of all the starting position players on the roster, Wright’s .307 BA with runners in scoring position is the highest on the club, and his 57 RBI in that situation is also the best.

So, it makes sense for Wright to be pressing a bit; the team’s offensive futility has rivaled teams like the 1967 Mets and the 1909 Senators…two teams that no one wants to hear uttered. Outside of Ike Davis and Scott Hairston, there are no other consistent power sources, and Andres Torres, Ruben Tejada, and Mike Baxter (men who have all occupied the lead off spot) have gone into deep slumps recently. It’s hard to drive in runs when there is no one on base and it’s even harder to hit a three-run home run when the table isn’t being set for the best hitter in the lineup.

It’s nice to hear Sandy Alderson stand by the fact that he wants to keep Wright here long-term, despite his struggles the last three months. Like R.A. Dickey‘s first half for the ages, no one was expecting David to keep hitting at the kind of pace he set. Also, Alderson isn’t stupid; he sees the flaws in this lineup and that his third baseman is one of the few truly productive players he has. So, let’s hope New York will be able to turn over this roster and bring in some valuable players to help work towards getting our franchise player that championship he so desperately desires, without him having to try too hard to create offensive production all by himself.