David Wright: Looking at His Past and His Future

Oct 30, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets third baseman David Wright (5) hits a two-run home run against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning in game three of the World Series at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-245844 ORIG FILE ID: 20151030_jla_ag9_041.jpg

David Wright, since his arrival in Queens in 2004, was billed as the new face of the franchise, the man who will usher the team into unprecedented success. While the plans of that very good mid-2000s team went awry, David Wright stayed throughout the really deep bottoms, and persevered as the face of the franchise.

His career thus far has been very successful. He has a career average of .298, with an 11% walk rate. He has a career WAR of 52.9, with a 134 wRC+. He also has a very solid .377 OBP and .492 SLG. His 235 HRs and 931 RBIs are also very solid numbers. While these are not MLB Hall of Fame numbers, these are definitely indicative of a good career, and one Mets fans will remember fondly.

However, since 2011, injuries have begun to creep on the now 33 year old 3rd baseman. He suffered a stress fracture in his back in 2011, in 2013 he dealt with hamstring injuries, in 2014 he dealt with shoulder injuries and in 2015 he only played in 38 games due to spinal stenosis (which, if we’re being honest, is a miracle he even came back from).  He’s only played 130 games or more twice since 2011.

While David Wright can still be productive, as evidenced by his .289 average, 5 home runs, 24 RBIs, and 133 wRC+ in only 38 games last season. When he is healthy, he is still a very good hitter, albeit a different kind of hitter.

Due to his extremely severe back injury, his days of being a 30 home run threat are gone. In the early stages of his career, he was a virtual lock for a .300 avg, 27-30 HR, 100 RBI, 3+ WAR and a 125+ wRC+. From 2005-2010 his numbers support that:

2005: .306 avg, 27 HRs, 102 RBIs, 5.8 WAR, 142 wRC+

2006: .311 avg, 26 HRs, 116 RBIs, 4.7 WAR, 132 wRC+

2007: .325 avg, 30 HRs, 107 RBIs, 8.4 WAR, 151 wRC+

2008: .302 avg, 33 HRs, 124 RBIs, 7.0 WAR, 143 wRC+

2009: .307 avg, 10 HRs, 88 RBIs, 3.3 WAR, 125 wRC+ (Citi Field’s inaugural season)

2010: .283 avg, 29 HRs, 103 RBIs, 3.5 WAR, 129 wRC+

He was an incredibly consistent middle of the order threat, outside of 2009, but that is more of an indictment of how hard it was to hit with the original Citi Field dimensions. However, due to his health, that is not going to come back; his power numbers since 2012 have gone from 21, to 18, to 8, to 5.

This does not mean he will not, or cannot be productive, though. When Terry Collins revealed his first choice lineup for the 2016 season, he had David Wright slotted in the number two hole. That is perfect for today’s David Wright. He does not have the power to bat lower in the lineup, but he still has good plate discipline, as shown by the 11.0% walk rate for his career, and he is still capable of hitting 25-30 doubles, and around the .270 mark. The biggest issue going forward is if he can stay on the field, but having a more than capable backup in Wilmer Flores will allow Wright to take days off when need be. He probably will not play 150 games again, but he can play 110-120 and be very productive.

David Wright is playing with a serious back injury; it is a career-threatening one, and by all accounts a career shortening one. Ex-Met Lenny Dykstra had his career pre-maturely end in 1998 from the same injury. While medicine has advanced since then, the injury is still a severe one.

His contract, which ends in 2021, will almost certainly not be seen to its completion; I would be shocked if he plays more than three more years. His once (possibly) Hall of Fame bound career has been derailed by injuries, but that does not mean he cannot still produce in a different way while he continues to be the captain of the Amazin’s as they go into one of the most exciting times in the franchise’s history.