David Wright and the C.

An article by posted on September 16, 2011

Recently, there has been an awful lot of discussion between Mets fans about the dirty little C word. No, not that one. (Captain, my goodness what were you thinking?)

Of course, the word is “clutch.” I’ve gone on record as saying I don’t really care about who is clutch and who is not. I think there could be a moment in the 9th inning where Kaz Matsui could have a big at bat, does that make him clutch?

There’s no minimum requirement in order to be clutch. What do you use to decide when and if a player is clutch? How do you decide on a players true clutch talents if you don’t watch 162 games for that player’s team? And if you don’t, then doesn’t that mean that clutch is in the eye of the beholder?

You and I as fans like the feeling of a big hit in the 9th inning more than we like the feeling of a big hit in the 5th inning. If they both win a game, do they have different values?

If somebody grounds into a double play in the 5th with 2 runners on, and then does the same in the 9th inning, you walk away from the game more angry about the 9th inning than the 5th.

I think clutch is a moment, in a single moment a player can come up with a big hit. If given enough chances, players can get a chance to come through in the “clutch.”

But, here’s my biggest problem. I’m not a David Wright homer. I like Wright, I appreciate him for what he is.Do I think he’s an MLB superstar? No. Do I think his critics are incredibly harsh and ridiculous? Yes. Part of my problem with a Mets fan clutch debate is that it only occurs to give his critics a chance to be negative about him. I often find that the same people are fully on board with Jose Reyes as well, and yet never bring up Reyes’ “clutch” or “unclutch” skills?

Let me tell you why fans of other teams look at the way some of us treat David Wright and they just shake their heads.

The New York Mets have been in existence in 1962. They have won 2 World Series, and we have seen just 7 playoff appearances.

David Wright is not only a homegrown talent, but he is also a lifelong Mets fan. In his 8 seasons as a NY Met here is where he ranks in our beloved franchise’s history:

Runs Scored: 693, 2nd all-time behind Jose Reyes’ 725
Hits: 1,238, 3rd all-time behind Ed Kranepool’s 1,418
Doubles: 280, 1st all-time
HR: 181, 4th all-time behind Daryl Strawberry’s 252.
RBI: 716, 2nd all-time behind Strawberry’s 733.
SB: 149, 6th all-time behind Reyes’ 366.
BAVG: .301, 2nd all-time behind John Olerud’s .315 (Olerud 600+ less Games as a Met)

At the end of the day friends, you’ve been watching a player who has brought every aspect of a strong offensive player you could ask for. He’s never done anything to embarrass the franchise, he’s been a model franchise player.

Think about how many other fan bases would look at a player who is climbing their all-time record books in every major offensive category and be down on them because they “aren’t clutch.”

Consider that teams like Minnesota, Houston, and the Blue all came into existence “around” the same time as our beloved Mets.

How do you think Twins fans feel about Kent Hrbek? 2nd all-time in HR and RBI. They love him. Was he “clutch?” If you look at his overall post-season numbers, and use them to determine a player’s clutch factor, then you’d say he wasn’t. But he had 1 big HR in the post-season, just 1 moment… is that all it takes?

Astros fans love, and I mean love Jeff Bagwell. Because of what he did with the Astros and what he meant to the franchise. What was clutch about Jeff Bagwell? Certainly not his body of work in the playoffs.

As a Toronto Blue Jay, which hits were Carlos Delgado’s most clutch? Oh… they never made the playoffs with him? So do Blue Jays fans hold it against him or will they be proud when their franchise’s all-time HR and RBI leader gets his number retired by them one day?

A guy like Adam Dunn was one of the most elite hitters in baseball from 2004-2010, when was he clutch? He never played in the playoffs, so what aspect of Adam Dunn’s game was clutch?

From 2004-2010, there were only 7 players who drove in 100+ RBI in at least 6 of those 7 seasons. Albert Pujols, Mark Texiera, Miguel Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn and of course, David Wright.

You know, that’s pretty darn good.

To summarize, the word clutch is an excuse to either falsely praise or falsely be critical of a player. A player gets over 500 plate appearances in a healthy season, how many of those are deemed “clutch opportunities?” There’s no real definition for it, because it’s about how their actions make YOU feel in the moment.

Fans of other teams do not hold the word “clutch” against some of their all-time greats. They appreciate them, and honor them.

So lastly, lets look at some at bats in David Wright’s career that in my opinion could be labeled as clutch, because to me a clutch at bat is based on the current situation. Every at bat counts.:

2005:
April 6th: HR in 4th inning to tie game 2-2
April 25th: HR in 6th inning to take 5-1 lead, was 3-1
May 1: Singled in Cliff Floyd to tie game 3-3
May 5: Doubled in Piazza and Cameron to take a 5-3 lead in 5th inning
May 7th: 4th inning, HR to take 1-0 lead
May 8th: 8th inning grounded into fielder’s choice to tie game 4-4
June 9: 2nd inning HR to tie game 1-1. Singled in 4th to take 2-1 lead.
June 23: 4th inning, singled in a run to take 1-0 lead
July 1: 4th inning, singled in tying run
July 14: 4th inning solo HR to take the lead 2-1 v. Atlanta
July 25: 4th inning sac fly to take the lead 3-2
July 31: 9th inning single scores 1, makes the game 6-4.
August 2nd: Leadoff walk in 11th inning tied 8-8. Would score winning run on a bases loaded walk.
August 3rd: 5th inning single drives in 2, to break a 2-2 tie.
August 4th: 4th inning bases loaded walk to break a 3-3 tie
August 12th: 5th inning double to break a 3-3 tie, Mets take 5-3 lead.
August 17th: 4th inning single drives in 2, breaks a 1-1 tie.
August 26: 2nd inning solo HR, 1-0 win.
October 1: 4th inning 2 run HR to break a 1-1 tie.

2010:
April 14: 3rd inning 2 run HR to break a 1-1 tie
April 22nd: 6th inning double drives in 1 to break a 0-0 tie
May 5: 6th inning HR down 4-2, Mets would then be able to tie game on a sac fly.
May 9: 7th inning sac fly to break 4-4 tie
June 12: 6th inning Fielders choice breaks 1-1 tie.
June 15: 5th inning infield single ties game 4-4.
June 25: 4th inning double ties game 1-1
July 3: 8th inning single break 2-2 tie.
July 9: 3rd inning sac fly ties game 1-1
July 18: 4th inning HR breaks 1-1 tie
July 30: 5th inning 2 run HR Mets take 5-4 lead.
July 31: 3rd inning single ties game 1-1, 7th inning double drives in 2 ties game 4-4
August 17: 8th inning HR ties game 3-3
August 25: 9th inning HR puts Mets down 5-4.
September 2: 6th inning HR makes the game 3-1
September 28: 6th inning HR ties game 2-2
September 29th: 4th inning 2 run HR, Mets take 7-6 lead.

So that’s 36 big hits over in his 1st year as a starter and his last full season played. How many big hits would qualify him as “clutch?” There is no answer.

Because the truth is, no matter what he does, there will always be fans who do not appreciate him or will look for a way to spin every success he has into a failure. The truth is of those 36 how many do this critics remember? Probably not many, because you only remember what you want to remember to fit your point of view.

Nobody in baseball is a 3-4-5 hitter because they are “clutch.” They are 3-4-5 hitters because they drive in runs, and runs win games. It doesn’t matter if that run happens in the 1st or 9th inning.

He’s not Derek Jeter, he never said he was. Players from other teams do not get compared to Derek Jeter either. Do I think he fails in big spots? Yes. Do I think everybody does? Yes.

He is David Wright, and it’s very possible that when he leaves the Mets (whenever that is) he could be their all-time Hits, HR, RBI, Runs Scored (depending on Reyes), Doubles leader. He also could realistically finish in the top 5 of stolen bases.

For any other fan base, a player like that would be celebrated to no end. But not here, here we look at a homegrown all-time Met and shake our heads and say …. “not clutch”?

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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