David Wright: Superstar

David WrightThere is no superstar in Major League Baseball who gets less credit for all he does than David Wright.

For someone who is a Top 10 hitter in the sport – and who is the best third baseman not playing for the Detroit Tigers – Wright never seems to be placed in his rightful spot amongst baseball’s elite players.

Consider these two stat lines, from the 2013 season:

Player A: .311/.382/.514, .382 wOBA, 141 wRC+, 5.9 WAR, 154 G

Player B: .313/.395/.526, .397 wOBA, 159 wRC+, 6.0 WAR, 107 G

Player B, as you may have guessed, is Wright.  Player A is Robinson Cano, of whom people speak of a great hitter and as a superstar.

Let’s make this a little more fun, and consider these stat lines, spanning the respective players’ entire careers.  Since WAR is an accumulated stat, I’m using WAR/150 to show how many wins a player has generated over a replacement player per 150 games in their careers.

Player A: .302/.382/.507, .382 wOBA, 137 wRC+, 5.5 WAR/150

Player B: .321/.399/.568, .407 wOBA, 152 wRC+, 5.0 WAR/150

This time, Player A is Wright, and Player B is Detroit Tigers Third Baseman Miguel Cabrera.

Now, Cabrera’s offensive statistics are superior to Wright’s in every single category, but the most important stat in that entire comparison is the last one: WAR/150.

Wright holds a significant edge in this category, so much so that if both Cabrera and Wright were to go on and have 20-year careers, at this rate Wright would provide his team with 10 more wins than Cabrera would.

Now WAR is not perfect, and there are certainly legitimate points that can be brought up to refute certain aspects of it, but it is the best barometer of a player’s overall impact on his team that exists.

And it just so happens that that stat says that Wright is the superior overall player.

Now I’m not saying that Wright is a better hitter – he’s not.  Cabrera is clearly a much better hitter than Wright is.  But Wright is the better player.

Let’s delve a little deeper to examine why.

First of all, Wright has been a much better defender throughout his career.  In his career, Cabrera has been worth -13.1 Defensive Runs Saved/150 when playing third base, while Wright has been worth -1.23 DRS/150.

Unlike Cabrera – who has been consistently bad at defense throughout his entire career – Wright’s defensive down years came from the 2009-2011 seasons, or the time when he struggled with concussions, a broken back and several other factors which hindered his on-field performance.

In 2007 and 2008, Wright deservedly won the National League’s Gold Glove award, and should have won a third in 2012 when he posted 16 DRS.

Wright is also a much better baserunner than Cabrera is, posting a career 2.27 Baserunning Runs/150, while Cabrera owns a -1.87 BRR/150 mark for his career.  That is a difference of 4.14 runs per season.

How big is that difference?  There are 22 entire teams in the MLB that have a combined BRR of less than 4.14.

I can hear some of you screaming that baserunning and fielding are not enough to make up for the offensive gap – I’ve heard it thrown around in the numerous Cabrera-Mike Trout MVP arguments as well – but the stats show otherwise.  The good folks over at Baseball Prospectus can explain why better than I can.

And yet for some reason, Cabrera is viewed as a sure fire first-ballot hall of famer, while Wright is perceived to be sitting on the fringe.

It’s time to give Wright what he deserves – the title of Best Third Baseman in Baseball.

Joe Vasile is a play-by-play announcer for Widener Pride football and the host of “Ball Four” on WTSR on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. – Noon.  Follow him on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.

11 comments for “David Wright: Superstar

  1. Chris F
    September 23, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Very nice article Joe. It illustrates a lot, and how lucky we are to have the Captain a career Met. I hope SA can deliver the many remaining necessary components.

  2. steevy
    September 23, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Noooooooooooo!

    It’s been widely speculated that Mets manager Terry Collins will be back with the team on a new contract in 2014, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that discussions are likely to begin today, as general manager Sandy Alderson is with the team on the road in Cincinnati right now (Twitter link).

    Earlier today, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News wrote that a two-year deal made sense, as Collins’ performance hasn’t justfied a three-year extension, but another one-year deal would just mean another season of a lame duck manager and wide-reaching speculation.

    Collins was named manager of the Mets following the 2010 season. In his three years with the Mets, he’s managed just a 222-257 record, though he hasn’t been given much talent to work with and has seen prolonged time on the disabled list for his best players, including David Wright, Jose Reyes and Jonathon Niese. Collins has five winning seasons under his belt after managing the Astros from 1994-96 and the Angels from 1997-99.

    The Mets have said they won’t officially announce a return for Collins until after the regular season has concluded.

  3. Name
    September 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    There are a couple of factors working against Wright.
    I think the First and most relevant fact is that the Mets haven’t been competitive in 5 years now. If you win, you get more coverage and therefore more recognition.
    The second reason are his injuries. One requirement to gain “superstar” status in my eyes is durability. Wright was like that for 04-10, but has missed significant in 2 of the last 3 years now.
    The 3rd factor is that he is no longer a HR slugger. When people think of the best hitters, we usually think of the big HR hitters first.
    And the final factor only applies to Met fans and that is we take him for granted now. I think if you did a poll asking other fans opinion on Wright, they would probably talk about him more glowingly than regular Met fans.

    • Joe Vasile
      September 23, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      All very legitimate arguments that you’ve made. Playing on a better team gives you more recognition and you get rated higher than perhaps you should be (see Jeter, Derek). Not that Jeter isn’t a great player, but he is not the best SS of the past 20 years. As far as the injuries, I think the reason for this is that not only do the injuries slow performance, but it keeps you out of view of the public, leading to the same problems as if you were playing for a bad team. Third, I’d make the argument that Wright hasn’t necessarily fallen off with his HR power more than a regular player would at this point in his career (other than 2009), but that the move from Shea to Citi has resulted in fewer homers than he would’ve hit. But then again I haven’t looked at the numbers.

    • Metsense
      September 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      I get my Met feed on MLB.TV so half the games I watch and listen to are broadcasted by the opposing team. Eveyone talks as if Wright is a superstar, piling on the superlatives about his hitting, his leadership abilities and especially his defense. Wright is truly a superstar and in year one of the 138M contract he already has earned 27M in WAR value. I always felt strongly, and still do, that he would earn that contract. Imagine how many runs Wright would knock in with Ellsbury, Choo and Duda batting in front of him! You think the Met could compete then. I will never take Wright for granted as he does it without those OBP players in front of him.

      • Chris F
        September 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm

        “I get my Met feed on MLB.TV so half the games I watch and listen to are broadcasted by the opposing team.”

        Im very curious about this Metsense…I get them through MLB.TV too but always can choose the FAN or SNY feeds. Do you choose the away feeds?

        • Metsense
          September 24, 2013 at 7:44 pm

          No. It cost more to get just the SNY feed. PS Happy 50th Chris F, tried the night of the Chat but it went down.

  4. Marcus
    September 23, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Id love to see Wright and Camp batting next to each other for years to come.

  5. September 24, 2013 at 1:39 am

    I gotta agree. He doesn’t play on a great team, he’s not a home run machine and he’s not flashy for the sake of being over the top. He’s had an above average career and he’s having a pretty awesome season (injuries excluded). If he keeps this up, Harvey comes back and Sandy brings in more bats next year, that could change in a hurry.

  6. September 26, 2013 at 4:15 am

    Cano plays second base where you don’t expect to see those kinds of offensive numbers. I would be curious to compare Cano with Joe Morgan and see how he stacks up against him. Wrigh has matured and become the leader he is today both on and off the field. Let’s hope SA can put a decent bat behind Wright in 2014.

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