Calling on Captain America: David Wright


Calling on Captain America, a beleaguered fan base needs you.

The Flushing faithful are finally anticipating a competitive 2015 season, and I’m one whom feels the team needs David Wright front and center leading the advance.

He is the lone player remaining from the 2006 team that competed for a National League championship.  That was 9 years ago.  With a team seemingly poised to compete again, be it this season or next, he must be among those leading the Mets back into the playoffs.

Sep 15, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets third baseman David Wright (5) looks on from the bench against the Miami Marlins during the sixth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the Dark Knight of Gotham (Matt Harvey) is back, and Thor (Noah Syndergaard) is on the way too.  Say what you will, but they will only wield their powers once every fifth day.  David Wright, we hope, will be on the field every day.  So, if there were ever a time the fan base needed Captain America to come through and seize the moment, the upcoming season would be it.

Simply put, the Mets need to score considerably more runs in 2015 than they did last year.  They ranked 21st in MLB, and 8th in the National League.  Within the N.L. East, the Mets were outscored by the Nationals and Marlins.

For the sake of continuing winter conversation, we can argue David Wright as the only player whom can potentially lead the Mets in all the following: average, OBP, slugging, home runs, and RBI.  That’s not to say he will, or needs to.  The greater point to be made is that Wright must be the Mets day-in and day-out offensive catalyst.

David Wright is now 32-years old; the last of the traditionally acknowledged physical prime years of baseball.   He is the club’s senior member, but he’s hardly washed up.

The Mets all-star third baseman is still the face of the franchise, and as the team’s all-time offensive leader he is the new book keeper; the modern caretaker of Mets history.

Sink or swim, I believe the stage is set for him to have a legacy defining season.  Therefore, my hope is for the latter.

Now for the reality of the situation.

Entering stage three of David Wright’s career, not too many seem sure what to expect.  His once smooth road towards 2015 detoured through numerous peeks and valleys.

The Shea Stadium Years

In the 4 seasons after his 2004 rookie debut, he usually batted fifth in a line-up featuring Jose Reyes setting the table, Carlos Beltran hitting third, and Carlos Delgado cleaning-up.  Between 2005 and 2008, David Wright made Shea Stadium’s right/center field his power alley.  He averaged .312/.395/.534, with 29 home runs and 112 RBI.  In 2006, Beltran, Delgado, and Wright, all posted 100 RBI seasons.


A 26-year old David Wright and the Mets then moved into Citi Field.

Carlos Delgado got off to a good start, slashing .298/.393/.521, with 4 home runs and 23 RBI in his first 26 games.  By May 10th, however, a problematic hip injury effectively ended Delgado’s career.  Through 30 games with Delgado (and Carlos Beltran) in the line-up, Wright batted .304, with 3 home runs and 18 RBI.

Carlos Beltran got off to an exceptional start, but also landed on the disabled list by June 21st.  Up until then, Beltran was slashing .336/.425/.527, with 8 home runs and 40 RBI.  Over that same time, David Wright’s average was up to .352, with 4 home runs and 39 RBI.

Then, in a 49 game stretch between June 22nd and August 15th without Beltran, David Wright only batted .287, with 4 home runs and 16 RBI.

On August 15th against the San Francisco Giants, injury was added to insult.  David Wright suffered a concussion as a result of a 93-mph Matt Cain fastball that struck him in the helmet.  Two weeks later, the Mets cleared him to play.  In his final 29 games of the season, David batted just .239, with 2 home runs and 17 RBI.

Wright finished 2009 with a slash of .307/.390/.447, just 10 home runs, and 72 RBI, while his strikeouts had been going through the roof since April.  Clearly, a line-up depleted of its main sluggers, and Citi Field’s unforgiving dimensions were already adversely affecting Wright’s season prior to getting beaned.  An unfortunate fastball to the head only further hastened an unraveling situation.


While Mets fortunes continued to nosedive, David Wright turned in a reassuring, bounce back campaign especially as it pertained to Citi Field.  In 157 games, he slashed .283/.354/.503, with 29 home runs and 103 RBI.  It marked the first time he failed to hit .300 over a full season, and he struck out a career high 161 times.


Through May 15th, Wright was in the midst of a poor season.  After 39 games he was slashing .226/.337/.404, with 6 home runs and 18 RBI.  He was actually trending towards a 24 home run season, but instead was placed on the disabled list for two months with a lower back stress fracture.  He returned on July 22nd to finish the season with an overall slash of .254/.345/.427, with 14 home runs and 61 RBI.


Outside of a fractured right pinkie, the 2012 season proved to be yet another bounce back season, albeit a slightly less reassuring one.  In 156 games, he lowered his strikeouts, slashed .306/.391/.492, however, only hit 21 home runs with 93 RBI.

David Wright was having another good season in 2013, until short circuited by a strained right hamstring on August 2nd.  He resumed his season on September 20th.  Limited to just 112 games, he slashed .307/.390/.514, with 18 home runs and 58 RBI.


Last June, David Wright suffered what the team termed a rotator cuff contusion.  In 79 games prior the injury, he was already struggling with a .277/.333/.396 slash, 6 home runs and 41 RBI.  He returned on July 5th and continued playing with a compromised shoulder through September 8th to finish the season with a .269/.324/.374 slash, 8 home runs and 63 RBI.


Despite some ligament damage (revealed in a subsequent MRI), David elected against off-season surgery to repair his rotator cuff.  Last September, he instead began a 6-week strengthening program with positive results.  More recently, David has been busy building up equal right/left strength, and says that he’s presently pain free.

For 2015, the Fangraphs Steamer on David Wright predicts:

  • 130 games
  • 511 at-bats
  • .275/.347/.432 slash
  • 16 home runs
  • 65 RBI

I say the Mets need more.  They need a season that closely resembles his career average:

  • 550+ at-bats
  • .298/.377/.494 slash
  • 25 home runs
  • 101 RBI

Can, and will the Mets get that kind of season, this year or next?  It’s not enough anymore to say health will dictate that, but a career average season is certainly plausible.

His recent history, however, suggests the next unrelated injury is around the corner.  That said, I wonder to what extent, if any, David’s 2011 lower back stress fracture still affects his game.  Otherwise, whether his rotator cuff is sufficiently healed and strong enough to last the season, while hitting for power, remains to be seen.

Beyond that, there is also growing opposition to David Wright batting third.  To that I say, let success talk, and struggles walk.  If David Wright struggles in the third slot, I fully expect Terry Collins to act with conviction and drop him down in the order.  At a minimum, a proactive approach is warranted in a season being billed as the great Wild Card chase.

Let’s face it, the youthful summers spent slugging with Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado in Shea Stadium have fast become distant memories.  After which, you might argue David Wright’s prime years were robbed from him by injury, and (what I call) Wilpon tectonics.  Now, on the other side of a long rebuild he’ll be hitting alongside Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, and his friend Michael Cuddyer, and have the twice-modified outfield dimensions of Citi Field to aim for.

Yes, entering Citi Field’s seventh season they’re still adjusting the fences.

It’s time for a new narrative.

Help us Captain America, please.