Last month, Mets Merized Online began rolling out our Metsmerized Hall of Fame. We decided to begin with our FIVE FOUNDING MEMBERS just as they did when they got started in Cooperstown.
In the last four weeks we have selected Tom Seaver in week one, and Keith Hernandez in week two, Jerry Koosman in week three, and Dwight Gooden in week four. It is now, with great pleasure, that we announce our fifth founding member of the Metsmerized Hall of Fame… A drum roll please for…
Everything Is All Wright: David Wright, 3B
You can ask ten different Baseball fans “Who is the best all-around player of all-time?” and you’d get ten different answers.
Babe Ruth saved the game and hit more home runs than entire teams. But Ruth did not have the speed. Ty Cobb’s lifetime .367 career batting average has never even been approached in almost a century. But Cobb, due to the era he played in, didn’t hit for power. Ted Williams was a natural hitter with 15/20 eyesight. But Ted was bored playing defense, frequently standing in left field practicing his swing in between pitches.
Me? I always choose Willie Mays for one simple reason. He did it all. He hit for power, average, was the best defensive center fielder in the game, had speed and well…, simply put, how could you not love Willie?
Now, ask yourself who is the best all-around Mets player of all time? There are several names that come to mind.
John Olerud’s .315 batting average is the highest in team history. But Olerud didn’t have any speed. Who is the Mets’ best home run hitter? You can say Strawberry or Piazza. But Straw’s best batting average was .284. Piazza’s offensive numbers were downright frightening, but we all know that opposing base runners seemed to steal at will on him. When you think Mets defense, how can you not think Keith Hernandez? Mex won six consecutive Gold Gloves with us, but he was not a long ball threat. His biggest home run total was 18 in 1987. One can choose Jose Reyes for his speed. Single-handedly, Reyes could change the flow of a game. Like Keith, however, Reyes was not a home run threat.
Me? I’d choose David Wright. In the nine years he’s been wearing the blue and orange, Wright, like Willie Mays, can do it all. He may not be GREAT at one single facet of the game. But he is very, very, very good at all facets of the game.
Former hitting coach Howard Johnson said of David, “He’s the complete package. He uses the whole field with power all over the place. Defensively he makes all the plays.” Teammate Joe McEwing said, “He’s a special player and a special person.” “He has natural ability and a tremendous work ethic,” stated his former High School coach, Steve Gedro. “To have both these things in one athlete is rare.”
David made his debut on July 21, 2004. In 263 AB that season, he swatted 14 home runs, plated 40 RBI’s and batted .293. Along with teammate and friend Jose Reyes, 21 year-old Wright would become the face of the Mets, the players that a championship would be built around.
In 2005, his first full season, the Mets won 12 more games, finishing over .500 for the first time in four years. David’s line was .306 – 27 HR – 102 RBI. He also scored 99 runs and for good measure stole 17 bases. He was the Mets leader in over a dozen different offensive categories.
On August 9th against the Padres, Wright, with his back to the infield, made a bare handed catch over the shoulder. This Year In Baseball chose this as the Best Defensive Play of the Year.
In 2006, David showed no signs of a Sophomore Jinx and in fact he improved across the board. Wright hit 26 homers and knocked in 116 while posting a .311 batting average. To go along with this there were 40 doubles, a .531 slugging percentage and even stole 20 bases in what was a truly amazing all-around season. Wright was in the top 3 of all team offensive categories. Oh, and for good measure, he was the starting third baseman for the NL in the All-Star Game where he promptly hit a home run in his very first at-bat.
In 2007, David showed no signs of slowing down. If anything, he improved, having probably his best offensive season. He reached 30 HR’s for the first time and topped 40 doubles for the 3rd straight year. His .325 BA was third highest at that time in Mets history. He also set career highs in slugging (.546) and OBP (.416). On September 16, David became the 29th player in MLB history to join the 30-30 club, but only the third before turning 25. And while doing all of this, David also put together a 26-game hitting streak. But wait, there’s more… He won his first of two consecutive Gold Gloves and in 39 stolen base attempts, he was safe 34 times. For his incredible season, he finished 4th in the MVP voting.
Yes, he can do it all.
2008 saw David set career highs in HR with 33 and RBI’s with 124, the latter tying a Mets record for most in a single season. He also hit 42 doubles while posting a 534 slugging percentage. And in between David sending outfielders looking over their shoulder or racing into the alley, he achieved a 75% success rate of steals, 15 steals in 20 attempts. Oh, and yes, another Gold Glove, too.
Since Citi Field opened, David’s numbers have dropped. He’s also been hit with injuries as well, However, while his stats have decreased since 09, they are still very respectable. In the last 4 seasons (including playing just 102 games in 2011), Wright has averaged 152 hits, 35 doubles, 82 RBI’s, 19 HR’s, a 288 BA and 467 slugging.
His career stats with the Mets are a 301 BA, 204 HR’s, 818 RBI’s, 381 OBP, 506 SLG, 322 doubles and has stolen 166 bases while being caught just 54 times, a 75% success rate.
He is the Mets all-time leader in hits (1426) Runs (790), doubles (322), RBI’s (818) and walks (616). He is 2nd in Batting Average (301) and At Bats (4742), 3rd in HR’s (204), tied for 3rd in slugging (506), 4th in OBP (381) and 5th in SB’s with 166.
In addition to the power, average, speed and glove, David is also the type of athlete that’s become a rarity. He is the consummate professional. When things are going bad for the Mets, he tips his hat to the opponent and makes no excuses. He’ll be the first to admit that the club, himself included, need to work on things. When some of his teammates avoid the media after a tough loss, David is always there, representing the team. He’s the type of ballplayer you can have your son or daughter look up to. In that respect he is like another one time Met, Tom Seaver. Mike Piazza one said, “He’s a good kid. You pull for someone like that.”
I don’t remember the exact date. I don’t even remember the exact year. I think it was about 1976. But I do remember we were playing the Phillies. I was at a game with my dad. I did my duty as a Mets fan, cheering for John Milner and Buddy and Grote and promptly booing Greg Luzinski and Garry Maddox and Steve Carlton. My father leaned over and pointed to the guy playing 3B for the Phillies and said, “You won’t realize what a great player he is until he retires.” Sure, Mike Schmidt was good and hit a lot of home runs, but he was no Dave Kingman! My dad was right. Schmidt went into the Hall of Fame and Dave Kingman? Well, I don’t know what ever happened to him.
Being the best all-around player in team history, it’s safe to say a player like David Wright comes around to the Mets only once every fifty years.
Now that our Five Founding Members have been selected, next week we will roll out our 2013 Metsmerized Hall of Fame Ballot. We will ask you, our readers, to cast your vote for who should be selected for enshrinement in 2013. Learn more by visiting our Metsmerized Hall of Fame.