Three reasons to expect a bounce back year from David Wright

By Rob Curry

The 2015 season for the New York Mets is filled with optimism thanks to their core of young players. Despite all these young, talented players, the Mets are going to need a bounce back year from their captain if they wish to play deep into October.

In 2014, David Wright posted a meager .269/.324/.374 slash line while hitting a career low eight home runs. His season was cut short but a nagging shoulder injury that very likely affected his performance for at least half the season. Wright will be 32 on Opening Day and is coming off arguably the worst year of his career. However, that does not mean that he is headed into a steep decline.

Here are three reasons why David Wright will bounce back in 2015:

Reason #1: Injuries do not equal permanent decline

David Wright‘s health has been a concern over the past couple of years. Since 2011, he has missed 144 games due to various injuries.  In 2011, Wright’s season was cut short thanks to a fractured back suffered on a play at third base. However, the two following seasons saw Wright’s best years since 2008. Wright hit .306/.391/.492 with 21 home runs in 2012 and .307/.390/.514 with 18 home runs  in 2013, compiling a combined 12.8 WAR in the process.

David Wright is no longer in his prime but he is hardly in a decline. Wright may not be able to produce like he did in 2007 (8.3 WAR)  but he is still capable of being a very productive bat in the heart of the batting order.

Reason #2: More lineup protection

Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud will be key to helping Wright bounce back in 2015. Duda slammed 30 home runs in 153 games this past season, a career high. Most importantly, he established himself as a legitimate power threat in the middle of the lineup. After an early season trip to Triple-A Las Vegas, Travis d’Arnaud finished 2014 with 13 home runs and looked very confident at the plate.

Duda and d’Arnaud will continue to build on their strong 2014 seasons, and if Michael Cuddyer can stay healthy, Wright will have plenty of protection. Add in a bounce back year for Curtis Granderson and you have the makings of a dangerous lineup. When Wright has a strong lineup around him, he produces. From 2005 to 2008, the most recent stretch the Mets finished above .500, Wright topped 100 RBI every year.

Reason #3: A new and improved Citi Field

Much has been made of the frequent alterations made to Citi Field’s outfield fences. With the latest (and hopefully final) alterations, Citi Field’s dimensions are very similar to that of Shea Stadium. Most of Wright’s best power numbers come from his days in Shea Stadium where he hit at least 25 home runs per year from 2005 to 2008.

Since the move to Citi Field in 2009, Wright has hit more than 20  home runs only twice: in 2010 (29) and 2012 (21), his age 27 and 29 seasons. Hitting coaches will tell you that hitting is mental just as much as it is physical and it is very possible that the large dimensions of previous versions of Citi Field negatively impacted David Wright’s power output. The new dimensions will no doubt make Wright feel more comfortable driving the ball to right field with authority again.

2015 is about optimism for the New York Mets and there is reason to be optimistic about David Wright. The Captain is still in his early 30’s and he isn’t far removed from his prime. He will have a stronger lineup around him and is still capable of being a very productive player.