On the surface July 21, 2004 seemed like a pretty good day for the Mets. We defeated the Expos 5-4 at Shea with a run in the bottom of the 8th. We reached the .500 mark (47-47) and were just three games behind the Phillies. Orber Moreno picked up the win in relief of starter Jae Seo and Braden Looper collected his 20th save of the year. Hidden in all of this was the uneventful beginning for our rookie third baseman. Wearing number 5 and batting 7th, 21 year old David Wright got his major league career off with an 0-for-4.
“The Mets haven’t won a lot lately, save a trip to the 2000 World Series, where the Yankees needed just five games to prevail. These days, though, the Mets spend money, too. They have committed $50 million in salary to Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado this season alone. Yet, the cornerstone of this franchise just may be the guy who’s getting paid $374,000”
This prophecy was written by well respected Baseball journalist Paul White. It appeared in USA Today on March 16,2006.
To spend time writing–or reading–about how good David Wright is would be a waste. We all realize he is good, very good. Granted, he is the future of this team. His talent seems limitless. He has all the tools of a well rounded player. He can hit for power, he can hit for average, he had a good eye, a good head for the game, he has speed and last year added a Gold Glove to his arsenal.
However, what we may not realize is that David Wright may very well be the best hitter to ever wear the blue and orange.
Throughout our history, the Mets have been better known for pitching than hitting. Thanks to guys like Seaver, Koosman, Matlack, Ryan and Gooden, people always think of the Mets as a team that has won with pitching. Yes, we’ve had some solid hitters, too. But our current third baseman seems well on his way to end up in a class by himself.
2008 is only David’s 4th season in the majors and already he is in good company, moving up the list of all-time Mets hitters.
A quick look at some stats: In just 676 games, Wright is already tied for 5th in Mets history with 124 Home Runs, tied for 7th in RBI’s with Keith Hernandez at 468, tied for 9th with teammate Jose Reyes in total bases at 1356. He also has the 3rd highest OBP in Mets history. His 388 mark trails only John Olerud and Dave Magadan. His 531 slugging percentage is 2nd in team history, only behind future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. His 308 career BA trails just John Olerud. In addition to being 11th in Runs (445), 11th in Hits (786) and 7th in doubles (178), David’s 91 Stolen Bases puts him tied for 12th in team history. However, against his 91 SB’s , Wright’s only been thrown out a mere 22 times. His 81% success rate is 3rd highest of any Mets player with over 70, behind only Lenny Dykstra and Carlos Beltran (Yes, David’s success rate is more than Reyes.)
And upon reading these numbers, keep in mind that David Wright is still 4 months shy of his 26th birthday.
David is the face of the New York Mets. On the field, he is the heart and soul of the lineup. In addition to his ability, he is a role model, unlike his third base counterpart in The Bronx. With movie star good looks and a million dollar smile, DW was raised to respect his elders and those around him. He always takes the time to sign an autograph. Through both good times and bad times, he is always ready to chat with the media.
As fans of the blue and orange, we love our players. They are our heroes. In 86, we cheered uncontrollably for Keith and Gary, but yet, it was Doc and Darryl who still, to this day, have a special place in our heart. They were home grown. The same holds true today. We love the Carlos’s and Johan but it’s the homegrown talent of Wright and Reyes we cherish.
Just as the Mets strength through the years has been our pitching, our Achilles heel has been third base. From 1962 to 2004, in 44 years, we had an unheard of 131 different players at that position. Everyone from Robin Ventura and Edgardo Alfonzo to Jim Fregosi and Felix Mantilla called third base their home. It’s reassuring to know that although it may have taken 44 years and 131 players to get here, the wait was worth it.
Thanks for the memories, David. Both for the ones you have already given us. And for the ones you will.