Is David Wright in the decline? Is this the end of David Wright? Is David Wright washed up?
While it’s obvious that Wright has been struggling mightily in recent weeks, his power has been sapped and he’s having the worst season of his MLB career, I’m chalking this up to injury. He has always been a gamer who never asks out of the lineup due to injury and has refused to blame any of his struggles on any ailment throughout his career, but rather places the blame on himself.
In 2009, Wright missed 15 games after he was hit in the head with a fastball.
In 2011, he missed 58 games between May and July due to a broken back. He also hit a career low .254 that season in 102 games. He suffered the injury on April 19th and started 22 of the next 23 games before being shelved for two months. He played with a BROKEN BACK. He’s not going to let a simple shoulder sideline him.
David wasn’t off to a particularly hot start in 2011 prior to the injury, hitting just .239 with 2 HR and 8 RBI in 67 at bats over 17 games prior to his back injury, however his production dropped while he was playing hurt. Once he got hurt, he hit just .215 with 4 HR and 10 RBI in 79 at bats. He did gather 19 walks for a .367 OBP before he went on the DL.
Once David returned, his production increased. He wasn’t back to the typical David Wright numbers we were used to seeing, but after being allowed time to heal, he hit .272 with 8 HR and 43 RBI over his final 63 games with 15 doubles. Once he was healthy again, his performance translated, over a 162 game season, was the equivalent of 21 HR, 111 RBI and 39 doubles. Even with the career low numbers David put up in 2011, his performance when healthy wasn’t too bad.
In 2013, David missed 45 games with a hamstring injury. He injured the hamstring during a July 26th doubleheader against the Washington Nationals and continued to play another 6 games (sitting out one game) before finally ending up on the DL after exiting the game on August 2nd after singling off the Royals Luis Mendoza in the bottom of the 10th, replaced by pinch runner Zack Wheeler.
He was hitting .308 at the time of the injury and he picked up right where he left off when he came back and finished the season hitting .307. Yes, he missed a chunk of time, but let’s also not forget that when he landed on the DL, the Mets were 49-58 and 14.5 games out of first place and trailing 6 teams for the second wildcard spot. It was known right away that David would miss the next 3 to 5 weeks with a Grade 3 strain and with the team being so far out of it, there really was no rush to bring David back. He did return so he could get back on the field before spring training, but was given his rest, appearing in just 7 of the Mets final 10 games.
Which brings us to 2014.
While we don’t know exactly when David hurt his shoulder in June sliding headfirst into second base, we do know that as of June 2nd, David was hitting .296 with 4 HR and 32 RBI over his first 57 games with 72 hits. While his home run total was down, he collected 14 doubles over his first 57 games. Over a 162 game stretch, his numbers translated to 12 HR, 91 RBI, 40 doubles, and 205 hits. The home runs were down, but he was driving in runs, collecting doubles, and was hitting.
We do know that David hurt his shoulder again on Thursday, June 19th. He gutted it out and played 6 more games – actually hitting in all 6 games before finally getting a MRI on his sore shoulder and missing the next 7 games. A lot of people (myself included) thought that David should have been placed on the disabled list to heal prior to the All-Star break.
After missing only 7 games, David returned to the field on July 5th and didn’t miss an inning over the final 9 games before the break, when he finally received a cortisone shot in his ailing shoulder. With the week’s rest, David was hot heading into the break, hitting .364 with 2 HR, 7 RBI and 4 doubles in 33 at bats before receiving the shot. At the break, David was hitting .285 and still on a pace for 45 doubles, 89 RBI and 186 hits over a 162 game stretch.
Cortisone doesn’t heal an injury, and as Boomer Esiason points out in WFAN, it’s never good when you hear about cortisone shots. Once he got the shot, his production tanked. Since taking the shot in the shoulder, he’s played in 39 games while batting just .215 with 32 base hits, 2 doubles, 0 HR and 9 RBI.
Yes, David is now a player in his 30s. Yes, he’s had a couple of injuries over the last couple of seasons. Do I think we will ever see the same player we saw between 2006-2008 during which he hit 89 HR, drove in 347 runs, collected 566 hits, and hit .312? No. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t still perform at a very high level when healthy.
Ah…. when healthy, right? He’s at the age when injuries continue to nag. This is true, and this is a concern – but I do believe this is a matter of an injury and a proud player who is playing through pain when much lesser players would have long succumbed to the disabled list. This is a man who played for a month with a broken back and didn’t let out a peep. I’m sure David’s hurting. I’m sure his shoulder is hurting a lot worse than he let on. When he was hit by a pitch on August 16th, it hit him squarely in the injured spot. Since that plunking, which I’m certain has made a bad situation worse, he’s hitting just .128 (6 for 47).
I’m not worried that David is finished, washed up, or over the hill. I think he’s hurt. His skills haven’t suddenly deteriorated. He’s injured. He needs to rest up and heal once the season is over, if he even makes it through the rest of the season. I’m sure once October comes around, we’ll find out exactly how injured David is and has been for months.