Number 5 is now number 1. Including tonight’s game against the Florida Marlins, David Wright has become the Mets all-time leader in games played at third base. At the tender age of 26, Wright has now played in 836 games at third base, surpassing the previous record holder, Howard Johnson.
Until the arrival of Wright in the summer of 2004, third base used to be the favorite place for the Mets to play musical chairs. In fact, the Mets have used 139 different players at the hot corner in their 48 years of existence. Consider that “The Glider” himself, Ed Charles, only played 247 games at third base for the Mets. His last game at third base was in 1969, as he retired after the Mets won the World Series. Forty years later, those 247 games are still good enough for seventh place on the all-time Mets list. Only Wright, Johnson, Wayne Garrett, Hubie Brooks, Edgardo Alfonzo and Robin Ventura have played more games at third base in a Mets uniform than Charles.
David Wright made his debut for the Mets on July 21, 2004 and played in each of the remaining 69 games that season. From 2005-2008, Wright only missed 17 games, most of which were just routine days off. It wasn’t until his head got in the way of a Matt Cain fastball in August that Wright missed significant time (although it was only the minimum 15 day DL stint).
In fact, until Fernando Tatis played 19 games at third base this season, most of which were due to Wright’s short trip to the DL, no other player had played more than 11 games at third base since Wright took over the position from Ty Wigginton in 2004. That player was Chris Woodward, who played 11 games at third base in 2006, although a number of them were because the Mets were resting their players in September after building a comfortable lead in the division.
To better illustrate the fact that the Mets have had trouble finding a regular third baseman over the years, in EVERY SEASON before Wright took over the hot corner for good, the Mets had at least two players play in more than 11 games at third base. Prior to the 2005 season, the backup third baseman for the Mets played in at least 25 games in 31 of the first 43 seasons. Eight times, the Mets had more than two third basemen play in at least 25 games at the hot corner.
Before David Wright retires, he will hold many of the franchise’s records, surpassing Ed Kranepool and Darryl Strawberry who hold the majority of the team’s records. At only 26 years of age, he can now claim his first career franchise record. Just as important as the games played record is, the fact that Wright has provided stability at third base is probably more significant than the record itself. Congratulations to David Wright on the first of many team records he will attain!
By the way, for those who are curious (and for those who have a few hours to read this long list), here are the 139 players who have played third base for the Mets from 1962-2009:
Wilson Valdez, Elio Chacon, Steve Springer, Bob Johnson, Shawon Dunston, Gary Kolb, Jason Hardtke, Kevin Morgan, Larry Burright, Manny Alexander, Jose Valentin, Ross Jones, Eli Marrero, Rich Puig, Phil Linz, David Newhan, Ruben Gotay, Doug Flynn, Al Moran, Kurt Abbott, Gary Carter, Ricky Gutierrez, Mackey Sasser, Craig Shipley, Bob Heise, Garry Templeton, Miguel Cairo, Sandy Alomar, Junior Noboa, Mario Ramirez, David Lamb, Marco Scutaro, Jim Tatum, Damion Easley, Doug Saunders, Amos Otis, Craig Paquette, Jose Moreno, Jack Heidemann, Jorge Velandia, Mike Kinkade, Shawn Gilbert, Tommie Reynolds, Al Weis, Julio Franco, Chico Fernandez, Kelvin Chapman, Rick Herrscher, Carlos Baerga, Sammy Drake, Danny Napoleon, Melvin Mora, Wally Backman, Bill Almon, Clint Hurdle, Keith Miller, Aaron Ledesma, Bill Spiers, Wayne Graham, Leo Foster, Ron Gardenhire, Mike Cubbage, Kevin Mitchell, Dave Kingman, Fernando Viña, Joe Moock, Frank Thomas, Jeff McKnight, Bobby Valentine, Johnny Stephenson, Don Zimmer, Jay Bell, Sergio Ferrer, Tucker Ashford, Phil Mankowski, Chuck Hiller, Tim Teufel, Pumpsie Green, Ted Schreiber, Chris Woodward, Amado Samuel, Jerry Grote, John Valentin, Mike Phillips, Desi Relaford, Ron Hunt, Fernando Tatis, Luis Lopez, Cliff Cook, Lenny Harris, John Stearns, Ted Martinez, Ed Bressoud, Bob Bailor, Tim Foli, Alvaro Espinoza, Chris Donnels, Tom O’Malley, Ken Boswell, Alex Treviño, Todd Zeile, Bill Pecota, Bobby Pfeil, Joel Youngblood, Bobby Klaus, Jerry Buchek, Joe McEwing, Chico Walker, Butch Huskey, Kevin Collins, Rod Kanehl, Jim Hickman, Charlie Neal, Tim Bogar, Joe Torre, Matt Franco, Felix Mantilla, Joe Foy, Bob Aspromonte, Jeff Kent, Jim Fregosi, Gregg Jefferies, Richie Hebner, Roy Staiger, Elliott Maddox, Ken Boyer, Bobby Bonilla, Charley Smith, Ray Knight, Lenny Randle, Ty Wigginton, Dave Magadan, Ed Charles, Robin Ventura, Edgardo Alfonzo, Hubie Brooks, Wayne Garrett, Howard Johnson and…DAVID WRIGHT!