David Wright: Our Derek Jeter?

Earlier this week, Mets owner Fred Wilpon referred to David Wright as “our Jeter.” Some may be taken aback by that statement, but it make sense when considering what each player has brought to their respective franchises. Both are the “faces” of their franchise, have spent their entire careers with their team (and will probably end them there as well), have been referred to as their team’s captain, and have contributed to their club extensively both on and off the field.

That’s all well and good, and admirable in this day and age of high-priced free agents, but how do these two players actually compare with regard to on-field production? Both Wright and Derek Jeter made their major league debuts at the age of 21. At 30 years old, Wright is eight years younger than Jeter and has spent nine years in the majors. The table below is a comparison of some traditional statistics for their age 21 to 29 seasons:

Jeter Wright Jeter Wright Jeter Wright Jeter Wright Jeter Wright Jeter Wright Jeter Wright Jeter Wright
21 51 283 12 77 0 14 7 40 .250 .293 .294 .332 .375 .525 74 119
22 654 657 183 176 10 27 78 102 .314 .306 .370 .388 .430 .523 101 140
23 748 661 190 181 10 26 70 116 .291 .311 .370 .381 .405 .531 103 133
24 694 711 203 196 19 30 84 107 .324 .325 .384 .416 .481 .546 127 149
25 739 736 219 189 24 33 102 124 .349 .302 .438 .390 .552 .534 153 142
26 679 618 201 164 15 10 73 72 .339 .307 .416 .390 .481 .447 128 124
27 686 670 191 166 21 29 74 103 .311 .283 .377 .354 .480 .503 124 131
28 730 447 191 99 18 14 75 61 .297 .254 .373 .345 .421 .427 111 115
29 542 670 156 178 10 21 52 93 .324 .306 .393 .391 .450 .492 125 143

Jeter mostly had the leg up on BA throughout similar age seasons, while Wright clearly hit for more power, especially in their early years. OPS+, which is adjusted for the player’s ballpark, favors Wright most years (and overwhelmingly so some of those years).

It’s interesting to note that Jeter reached 3,000 hits in 2011, his age 37 season. Through their first nine years, Jeter had 1,546 hits to Wright’s 1,426. That leaves Wright 120 off the pace and the last year of his latest contract will be his age 37 season (2020). Barring any major time missed, it’s possible that Wright could be the Mets first 3,000-hit player.

Though the traditional statistics are interesting here, they don’t give us the whole picture. For example, Jeter played shortstop, a position with more defensive value and difficulty than Wright’s position of third base. On top of that, Jeter was at the head of a new generation of offensively-oriented shortstops during the mid-to-late nineties. In order to take this (among other factors) into account, we turn to bWAR. The table below compares the players’ bWAR through their first nine seasons:

Age bWAR
Jeter Wright
21 -0.4 2
22 3 4.5
23 4.8 3.8
24 7.3 8.1
25 7.8 6.7
26 4.4 2.9
27 4.9 2.5
28 3.5 1.9
29 3.4 6.7
Total 38.7 39.1

The fact that both players provided almost the exact same value over their first nine seasons is pretty incredible, especially considering the sentiment that fueled this analysis. They’ve done it in different ways, though. Jeter’s never surpassed Wright’s highest bWAR season, but never fell below 3 during this nine-year stretch. Wright’s bWAR values consisted of high highs and low lows.

These “faces of the franchise” also share similar achievements. Both have multiple all-star appearances, MVP votes, and Gold Gloves. Of course, Wright doesn’t have what many see as what really matters when all is said and done: world championships.

Jeter has had generally much more talent surrounding him, especially during his first nine years in the midst of the last Yankees dynasty. Wright has stuck it out through team lows, the likes of which Jeter never really had to experience, and still signed on to be a Met for life. Because of this, you could even argue that Wright may end up meaning more to the Mets than Jeter has to the Yankees.

Keep in mind that this exercise wasn’t meant to determine which is the better player. Good arguments could be made on both sides in that case. The point was to see if there was something to Wilpon’s comment about Wright. Based on the numbers, he really seems to be our Jeter.

16 comments for “David Wright: Our Derek Jeter?

  1. Name
    February 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I think much of the “contreversy” is because of the way Fred phrased his sentence. I think what he meant by saying “Wright is our Jeter” is really “Wright is to the Mets as Jeter is to the Yankees”, which would have caused much less media attention than what we have right now as most people have no problem with that statement.

    Value speaking wise, it looks like they are almost identical. However, unlike Wright, “Jeter” has a winning stigma attached to it; not the result of his own doing but rather being in the right places at the right time.

    • February 17, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      I agree, I believe that is what Wilpon meant and what I mention in the first paragraph. Jeter was in the right place at the right time, but also contributed mightily to the Yankees success. It’s unfortunate that, though they have shared the same value in their first 9 years, the “winning” stigma that is attached to Jeter has worked inversely for Wright. To a lot of fans, he seems to be the symbol of losing. Hopefully his decision to stick it out will pay off, as he certainly will be a main cog in the next winning Mets teams.

  2. February 17, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Why it seems like just yesterday we were saying Edgardo Alfonzo was our Jeter…

  3. February 17, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    It’s interesting now that the Mets signed wright to the extension that Wilpon is comparing Wright to Jeter. It was only two years ago that he called Wright a great guy but not a superstar.

    • Name
      February 17, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      Personally, i have 3 “types” of superstars: True Superstars, Baseball Superstars, and Current Superstars.
      True Superstars is the most elite. These are guys that the average joe would have had heard of and types of guys you would see in national commercials and have a great case for the HOF. So what market you play in does count. It requires an exteremly elite level of play over a moderate(at least 3 years) period of time, so an example would be Verlander, or an above average level of play for a long term, which are guys like Jeter and Rivera.

      Next up are the baseball superstars, and these guys are known by the average joe who regularly watches/follows MLB. These are guys who are just a notch down from the true superstars, like David Wright, or unfortunelty play in a smaller market and don’t get the (right) media attention to become a true superstar, like Ryan Braun.

      And finally are the current superstars, which are the guys who are at the top of the game right now, but haven’t done it for a long enough period to be considered for the other 2 groups. These are the 1 year wonders or breakout stars like Trout, Posey, and Bautista.

      Anyways, those are just my opinions but i gather Wilpon follows my same logic when he said that David Wright wasn’t a (true) Superstar.

  4. Steve Rogers
    February 17, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Jeter is vastly overrated.

    I agree that Wilpon just used the name as a point of comparison for “Face of The Franchise” and kind of surprised he didn’t pull the name of a beloved Boys of Summer Dodger! But at the same time you’d think Fred would have had more of sense of his fanbase than to compare Wright to a guy his fans hate with as much unbridled passion as he must have with enemies of his Dodgers.

  5. February 17, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    I seem to recall Fred Wilpon stating that David Wright wasn’t a superstar just a good player. Now after signing him to a huge extension David suddenly becomes “our Derek Jeter”. I as a Met don’t care for any Yankee players. I care what the Mets do.The Mets have their own identity and don’t need a Yankee comparison in order to make a point. The team and its players can stand on their own accomplishments.

    • Name
      February 18, 2013 at 12:25 am

      If i remember correctly i think someone called Wright “our Chipper” and no one made a story out of that.

  6. February 18, 2013 at 1:06 am

    To Name. I wonder how many Net fans care about the Atlanta Braves? Maybe that’s why they didn’t post a blog on that comment. The only thing that bothers me is that Wilpon downplayed Wright’s abilities and consideration as to being labeled a superstar. He then he turns around and calls him “our Jeter” after signing a hefty extension. Hypocrisy?

  7. February 18, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Sorry should of read Met fans

    • Name
      February 18, 2013 at 1:54 am

      They aren’t still our hated rivals?
      I think that got less coverage because it was during the season rather than at the start of spring training where the days are still mostly devoid of news and the media has nothing else to talk about.
      I think you are taking Wilpon’s words too literally. I think most of us here agree that he was trying to say “Wright is to the Mets as Jeter is to the Yankees” and that he wasn’t actually comparing Wright to Jeter.
      And it makes perfect sense that he would call him that after the extension as one of the key attributes of Jeter is that he has played his entire career with one team. Now it’s almost certain that Wright will do the same.
      I agree with Wilpon that Wright isn’t on the upper echelon of superstars. He’s probably a “low-end” superstar. But as we’ve seen from Greinke, Crawford, etc… is that you don’t have to be a superstar to get paid like one.

  8. February 18, 2013 at 2:52 am

    That is so true! There aren’t too many superstars left today. They’ve all gone to that great green pasture called steroidville. I wonder if David Wright had someone like Prince Fielder hitting behind him if he would have superstar stats?

    • Name
      February 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      I know you’re a big fan of lineup protection, but i’m part of the group that thinks that the effect of lineup protection is really minimal.

      He definately was on his way to superstardom but then the behemoth known as “Citi Field” stopped him dead in his tracks, which has lead to his up and down and now up again career.
      Most of the bigger superstars have had more consistant careers, as you can see from the chart that Jeter has never fallen below 3 WAR during his first 9 years(exluding his first taste of MLB)

  9. Steve Rogers
    February 18, 2013 at 8:56 am

    I’d say it got less coverage because Met fans accept Larry’s place in baseball history and there is no over the top over hype surrounding him.

    Maybe if Larry WAS a Yankee things would be a bit different, but then again Larry’s never been trumpeted as a one of the greater third baseman in the game’s history despite ample evidence to the contrary.

    Larry has never been tabbed as a guy that always wins despite being a couple of teammate generations removed from his last championship.

    Larry has never been put on a greater pedestal based on averaging out to what he usually does in a smaller sample size.

    Larry has never been given the national spotlight when chasing down franchise records (granted Larry wasn’t close to Aaron’s Atlanta offensive numbers, but come on, did anyone besides MFY fans care that Jeter was breaking Gehrig’s hits records? And somehow the mainstream media made it seem like he was the first guy ever to get 3,000 hits).

    And Larry has never been forced down anyone’s throats on the Mets own network on national TV ads.

    So yeah, Larry is a more acceptable comparison than Jeter.

  10. Metsense
    February 18, 2013 at 9:32 am

    As a Met fan from day #1 I always appreciated great players. Jeter is a great player. I can’t support this with sabrematics because he is one of those players that goes way beyond stats. He is a leader, a class act and finds a way to be a winner.(it wasn’t luck that he was in the right place for that play at the plate). He also has always stayed above the fray with that knucklehead A-Rod. Jeter is a HOF.
    I am very pleased that my favorite Met, David Wright, is being compared to and actually bettering Jeter in some ways. David needs 8 solid seasons so that he also can be a HOF. As for the Wilpon’s, who cares what they say, most of it isn’t truthful and just self promoting. I am still steaming about the payroll comment and all winter we pinched pennies. Their remarks insult my intelligence.

  11. February 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    While you may not be a fan of player protection in a line up Name almost every team has a dynamic 1-2 punch forcing pitchers to pitch against hitter number 1 rather than pitch around him. Jeter playing with superior talent and teams that were vying for a World Series year in and year out produces an easier environment to play in. It’s not only physical but mental as well. And yes the dimensions in Citifield when it first opened shattered Wright’s confidence.

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