Let David Be David

An article by posted on May 20, 2010

I’ve never been a huge David Wright fan. That’s not to say I dislike him, not at all. I just have never owned a Wright t-shirt, and never been a “Wright Guy.” Truth be told, I’m a Reyes guy. Just as I did last year, I’m asking the Mets and the fan base to let David be David. So far, none of what I wrote about Jose has really happened, so I don’t expect this blog to be adhered to either. But here it goes.  

I took a long car ride yesterday, and as I listened to my 90’s Alternative mix CD I kept thinking about just how awesome I thought the Smashing Pumpkins were back then. Then as I listened, you know I thought “maybe they weren’t as good as I thought back then?” I mean don’t get me wrong, I still think they were a very good band back then, but maybe just not a great band. 

This is kind of what I think we as a fan base did with David Wright. Before you raise your hand and say “I told you so,” nobody is interested in a “Mets fan,” who bashes David Wright just because others like him. It’s silly. It’s like if I watched the NBA I’ll choose LeBron and say he’s not as good as you think so that when his team gets eliminated, I have the “I told you so” moment, and you’ve got nothing. 

As Mets fans we’ve been living in a “Jeter World” for the last 15 years basically. Heck, his commercials for the Ford Edge are on SNY more than the YES network. How awful is that by the way? 

Anyway, we’ve lived in this world where our next door neighbor has had a face of the franchise that everybody in baseball looks up to. You ask young players today, who they watched 10 years ago and admire, most of them choose Derek Jeter.

Last year, David Wright hit .307 with 10HR 72RBI and an OBP of .390. For the majority of fans and critics, this was a failed season. Why? Homerun totals.

I’m a fan of Sabermetrics, I think by now you know this. I don’t live by them, but I recognize their value. One of the best parts about Sabermetrics is that it’s used primarily as a way to not grow attached to players. A player who plays with one team for a long period of time will undoubtedly hold a place in fans hearts, but also the organization’s heart.

It’s the same reason why for example, Howard Johnson has never been rumored to be fired even though if he were just a normal hitting coach with no history with the team, he would’ve been fired by now. I’m not saying let’s fire HoJo, I’m saying a hitting coach is an easy scapegoat to shake things up, and if HoJo wasn’t wearing a 1986 ring, he would’ve been gone by now.

So for me, when I look at those numbers without attaching Wright’s name to them, I think that’s a pretty good season. I’d be more curious as to why his RBI totals were down if he was hitting in the middle of the order and getting on base 39% of the time. We know by watching the 2009 Mets, it’s because rarely did we have talent around Wright. 

If you look at Wright’s history, starting with his first minor league stint at the age of 19 for Kingsport, you’ll see similar numbers to his 2009 season.

Here are his numbers in the minor leagues based on HR per at bat.

2001: 3%

2002: 2%
2003: 3%
2004: 5%

Here are his numbers in the major leagues based on HR per at bat.

2004: 5%
2005: 4%
2006: 4%
2007: 4%
2008: 5%
2009: 1%
2010: 5%

So in terms of his power supply, while everybody is asking for more, more, more, Wright is actually not giving you any less power this year than he lead you to believe he had in the past.

The problem to me is of course the Strikeouts. What separates Wright from a lot of hitters is his ability to get on base. He doesn’t have to hit a homerun to prove he’s a valuable asset to a team.

I believe he’s striking out at such an embarrassing pace because basically from May 7, 2009 to today, all he’s heard about is his lack of power. Wright’s power comes from good swings and not stepping up and guessing at the plate. He’s not a guy who just needs to make contact to push it over the wall. This idea that his season is a failure because he can’t hit HR’s is ridiculous.

In terms of his fielding, everybody was face palming after the loss against Atlanta. Here’s something you need to realize if you have not already. Just because Wright won a Gold Glove, doesn’t mean he’s a great fielder. The Gold Glove is voted on by people who don’t even watch every game. It’s easy to judge an MVP when you don’t watch Cardinals games, but Gold Glove is based on national popularity combined with defensive stats that aren’t ever truly accurate.

If you wanted to use errors as your gauge, here are errors per game played in the Minor Leagues:

2001: 13%
2002: 15%
2003: 12%
2004: 16%

And then the Major Leagues:

2004: 15%
2005: 15%

2006: 12%
2007: 13%
2008: 10%
2009: 12%
2010: 15%

So as you can see in the field, Wright won 2 Gold Glove Awards and they were in 2007 and 2008, two seasons in which Wright had more of a fluke fielding season than any of his other past or future seasons. So, the expectation that he’s going to be the 2007 or 2008 fielding third basemen is really just based on him being slightly more lucky than good.

The Mets have four position players who should compete every year for All-Star bragging rights, and right now none of them are even going to come close unless the fans drink the Kool-Aid while voting. David Wright needs to stop trying to be the big time power hitting 3B, people need to stop thinking he needs to be the Captain of the Mets. He’s not Derek Jeter. Wright needs to stop thinking about what the fans and the media are going to say after each at bat and just go out there and play his game.

What David Wright and Wright’s fans need to start realizing is that he’s not a superstar because of his ability to hit homeruns. He needs to be a superstar because he has the ability to drive the ball into gaps, go opposite field, come up with a big hit here or there, and use his legs on the base paths to get into scoring position. He’s got the ability for 20+ steals every year.

David Wright should be the Mets 3rd hitter in the lineup. No questions asked. He’s not a cleanup hitter, and he’s not a #5 hitter.

In 54 at bats this season batting 3rd, Wright has gotten on base 44% of the time. Do you have any idea how insane that is? That is the spot where he is most comfortable, and that’s the spot where he needs to be. Last year he needed to bat 4th or 5th because of the talent around him. This year he’s got guys like Bay (if he ever decides to show up), Davis, and even Barajas who can power up the middle of the lineup.

He’s a guy who gets on base 38-40% of the time, and that’s the guy you want batting third. He needs to be the guy who sets the table, and let others worry about getting the ball over the fence.

Wright needs to realize he doesn’t have to do it all with 1 swing of the bat, just get on base.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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