David Wright is on pace to post career lows in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. His struggles this season have been well documented. One thing to keep in mind is that because the Mets third baseman has produced at such an elite level over the years, his current level of career low production is not exactly bad, it’s just bad for him.
I’m not going to delve into the reasons behind Wright’s problems this season, is it age-related, is it his shoulder. is it Citi Field, is he suffering from a lack of protection… Nobody really knows… But my question is whether it may be time to reconsider if Wright should remain as the number three hitter.
The following is a chart of the top twenty No. 3 hitters in the majors this season:
It’s been said that the third hitter in the lineup is the most critical in impacting offensive results, more than any other spot in the lineup. The three spot is the linchpin and what the rest of the lineup feeds off of.
For a team that ranks 23rd in runs scored, obviously this is an area of concern and it bears a closer examination of the Mets lineup. Could the Mets drive better results and perhaps win more games with just a tweak of the batting order? It’s been done countless times before and constructing a lineup based on a player’s strengths is one of the most important jobs of any major league manager.
We build such emotional connections with our favorite stars that sometimes we blind ourselves to deciphering results and we develop an unwillingness to change something we’ve become so accustomed to – in this case seeing Wright penciled into the three spot. We’ve seen this before with Mike Piazza and Keith Hernandez before him. It’s difficult to face the reality that all players go into decline on the other side of thirty and that doesn’t mean they can’t still be productive – only that a manager should always be evaluating and reevaluating a player’s performance and putting him in a position to make the most impact.
The problem with Wright goes beyond his numbers. The eyeball-test, as Keith Hernandez calls it, shows a ongoing pattern of Wright no longer driving the ball as he once did and that accounts for his precipitous drop in run production.
So where do you bat Wright and who bats third?
At least until the current trends reverse themselves, I’d argue that Wright should bat leadoff against left-handers and second against rightys. Sounds preposterous? Not as preposterous as batting our $60 million dollar cleanup hitter in the leadoff spot I assure you.
For a team that has submitted over 70 different lineup configurations this season, you would think that just once they would have experimented with Wright batting first, second, fourth or fifth, but instead he’s been the one constant in the lineup for the better part of nine years. Maybe it’s time for a change.
Look, this may come off as an indictment of David Wright, but it’s not. It’s about whether or not the Mets are capable of using a player’s strengths and weaknesses to construct a better lineup and score more runs.
Search your feelings and you’ll know this to be true.