Sizing up David Wright’s legacy

David WrightDavid Wright is underappreciated. Despite having multiple MVP type seasons, he always seems to be considered “not quite” an elite player or his success is attributed to “other players” in the lineup. He has regularly been considered third among the triumvirate of third baseman that entered the league within a few years of each other, Wright, Ryan Zimmerman and Evan Longoria, despite the fact that arguments could be made that Wright is as good, if not better than, either of those players. Even when his contract was signed last year, which he has entirely earned and deserved, it was regularly derided by the media and the so called baseball experts, while contracts over the years given to lesser overall players (like Jayson Werth or Alfonso Soriano) were dubbed overkill, but necessary and insane contracts like those given to Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez, were considered earned by the player and positive for the team, at least for the first 7 years or so.

Even amongst New York Mets fans, Wright is often dumped upon as being a disappointment because of his salary or because he doesn’t get a hit every single time he’s at bat. The expectations for Wright by Mets fans are unrealistic, as evidenced by the multiple comments of derision he receives throughout the blogging universe. Instead of appreciating the career of a player who, at worst, will be considered one of the top 20 third baseman of the modern era (Post 1920), Wright’s own fans find flaws in him. He’s not the perfect player, but who is. It’s one of the enigmas of the Mets fan. We talk about wanting a winning team, discuss ad nauseum how we feel disrespected by the front office and the owners for not giving the fans a winning team to root for, yet we often give that same lack of respect we feel, towards the players who don our uniform. The way Wright is often discussed online baffles me as much as the way Carlos Beltran is looked at negatively because he didn’t swing at one pitch.

Wright is an all time great third baseman and there are plenty of numbers to prove it:

1. Since 1920, Wright is one of only 78 players who have played at least 1000 games at Third Base and played at least two thirds of their overall games at the hot corner. Wright is 63rd all time on that list in terms of games played.

2. In many of the major hitting categories, Wright ranks well above where he should be, based upon games played. Even though 62 third basemen have played more games in their career, among those players, Wright ranks 38th in runs scored, 47th in hits, 29th in doubles, 29th in home runs and 36th in RBI.

3. If the cumulative numbers don’t impress, consider Wright’s rankings in the percentage categories (AVG, OPS and OPS+). Wright ranks 3rd all time in OPS amongst modern era third baseman, only behind Chipper Jones and Mike Schmidt. In OPS+, Wright ranks fourth, behind Schmidt, Jones and Eddie Matthews. In AVG, Wright ranks 6th, behind Wade Boggs, Pie Traynor, George Kell, George Brett and Jones. If you notice, all of those players are either Hall of Famers (Traynor, Kell, Brett, Schmidt and Matthews) or should be in the future (Jones).

4. Regarding his cumulative stats, Wright should be able to get to at least 500 doubles, 300 home runs and 1300 RBI in his career. If he did, he would be one of only three modern era third basemen to do that, along with Brett and Jones.

5. Finally, for all of the Sabermetricians out there, Wright is currently ranked 20th overall in total WAR amongst modern era third basemen. Don’t forget that he’s ranked 20th, even though he is only 63rd in games played and that WAR also includes defensive metrics as part of its calculation.

So, we’re talking about a player that may end up being, statistically one of the top ten third baseman in the modern era. We’re also talking about the greatest position player in Mets history, the player that, along with Tom Seaver, will be a definitive Met. To appreciate his legacy, we as Mets fans need to appreciate Wright and the front office needs to put a team around him that can help Wright bring a title to the Mets and thus have a ring as part of his long term legacy.

That most likely won’t be accomplished this offseason, but the Mets can do several things to move towards that point:

1. Commit to Eric Young Jr. as the second baseman and leadoff hitter – In a previous post, I had said that I felt Wilmer Flores would be the second baseman next year. Reading the various rumors surrounding the team, I’m beginning to feel that Flores will either be traded or start the year in AAA, with Young being given the second base job. This is the right move, not because Young is the perfect player, but because the Mets need to fill other holes in the lineup and don’t have the money to do that and commit to a big time leadoff hitter. Jacoby Ellsbury is going to cost a lot of money, as is Shin-Soo Choo and the Mets don’t need to commit that money to a leadoff hitter. If Young is unsuccessful and Flores proves to be the future at second base, then they can move to fix the leadoff problem next year.

Daniel Murphy can then either be traded, or moved to first base as rumored. It gives the Mets that much more flexibility in moves for the offseason, something this team needs.

This also allows the Mets to find out what they have in Juan Lagares. Lagares profiles as a player who should be able to hit leadoff if he can learn more patience at the plate. His speed and extra base hit ability should make him an excellent leadoff hitter, but after this year, the Mets should have a much better idea of whether Lagares can hit leadoff or is, at best, an excellent defender that will, over the long term, man the eight hole in the lineup.

2. Trade Ike Davis and commit to Lucas Duda or Murphy – Davis is popular in the club house, but is a drag on the lineup. He needs a change of scenery and the Mets and Wright don’t need the distraction that Davis has been over these last two years. Reportedly, Davis has a lot of trade interest, so the Mets need to make that move. Duda is not perfect, but the Mets should give him the reigns this year against right handed pitching and either acquire a platoon partner or go with Josh Satin, as I predicted in an earlier post. They could also trade Duda and give Murphy the job, but that has to be the lesser choice as Murphy doesn’t have Duda’s power and is also valuable in the trade market.

If they go outside the organization for a platoon player, they should either trade for Michael Cuddyer or sign Corey Hart or Michael Morse. All three of those players can play the outfield when not platooning with Duda and all three can be had on short term deals, allowing time for prospects like Cesar Puello, Brandon Nimmo and the variety of young outfielders in the organization that are considered borderline prospects (Travis Taijeron, Dustin Lawley, Cory Vaughn, etc) to develop, prove they are options or prove that the Mets need to continue to look outside of the organization for outfielders. It also gives the Mets another year to evaluate first base and to see what they have in Dominic Smith. If Smith is the future at first base and a Duda platoon can bridge the gap, this year will answer that question or again, let the Mets know if they need to pursue a first baseman outside of the organization.

3. Sign Jhonny Peralta – The Mets reportedly “really like” him, he’s there for the taking, won’t cost a draft pick and may only cost 10 million a year. If, as reports are stating, the Mets are expected to spend 30 to 40 million dollars on players this offseason, they need to bring in Peralta, who plays average defense at short stop and hits. Peralta would fit nicely in the five hole of our lineup, lengthening the lineup and allowing a player like Duda to hit sixth, where he’s more likely to be productive since it’s a less intimidating part of the lineup. Peralta would also act as a bridge to the low level short stop prospects in the system (Gavin Cecchini and Ahmed Rosario) to see if either develops, or if the Mets need to look elsewhere for a short stop.

4. Acquire a left-handed or switch hitting, middle of the order outfielder – This is all about Curtis Granderson, Andre Ethier, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez would obviously be the best option. He’s the youngest and has the highest upside. The Ronkies have been adamant that Troy Tulowitzki isn’t getting traded and, although they’ve stated they won’t trade Gonzalez, the statements haven’t been as strong. If the Mets sent Rafael Montero, Murphy, Travis Darnaud, Puello and a pitcher like Gabriel Ynoa, I could see the deal getting done. That’s a big package, and would meet the Rockies needs. They are looking at catchers, as reports state they are talking with Carlos Ruiz, so Darnaud would give them a cheaper option and allow them to move Wilin Rosario to first base (which they are obviously considering based upon the Ruiz rumors). Murphy slots in at second and Puello moves in behind Cuddyer, whose contract expires after the season. They can now spend the Ruiz and Gonzalez money on another outfielder this season, and pitching. Montero has proven to be successful in bad environments (Las Vegas), so should be a pitcher Colorado would be interested in. If that doesn’t occur, the Mets should look at signing Granderson or Beltran. I’m not a huge fan of either signing as it’s unknown how much Beltran has left and if Granderson is going to fall off of a cliff like Jason Bay did, but both should be able to be signed for affordable 2 or 3 year deals and, if they play to what they have in recent years, will provide power behind Wright in the lineup. If none of these options work, trade for Ethier. The Dodgers need to move an outfielder and Ethier is the most obvious option to move. He wouldn’t cost much, outside of dollars on his contract, but he shouldn’t be an option unless they can’t get one of the other three, as he is the least productive of all three players.

If Darnaud is traded, a catcher is needed. A.J. Pierzynski should be the focus. He could be had on a short term deal, is a left-handed hitter and a veteran. He’s still productive as a late order hitter and would provide a bridge to Kevin Plawecki, who is anticipated to move through the system quickly.

If the above things are done, in some combination, the Mets will be competitive next year and in a better position to improve the following year, as prospects will have developed, Matt Harvey will be back and the Mets will know more about what they have in their young major league players, so they can better assess where future money needs to be spent.

The bottom line is that Wright deserves this. He doesn’t deserve to be a modern day Ernie Banks, who toils his whole career as the best player on his team, only to retire with only a mild sniff at a championship. Wright is the perfect New York baseball player. His image is clean of issues and he works to get every ounce of talent out of his body. Wright leaves nothing on the field, is a leader in the clubhouse and the face of the organization. He deserves the fans respect and the front office’s dollars and ability to judge talent. Wright will always have my respect and be the player that I will identify with most as a Mets fan as I grow older. All fans, and the organization itself, should give him the same respect.

19 comments for “Sizing up David Wright’s legacy

  1. November 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Why isn’t this two articles? You do a good job talking about Wright then you get into some offseason speculation… which is fine, but isn’t on topic.

  2. tom
    November 7, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Wright’s legacy will be damaged by playing in the cavern known as Citifield. Easy to los 50 to 7d HRs there vs., say, in Philly. Hope he does not miss Hall of Fame as aresult

  3. Name
    November 7, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I’m not quite sure if your perceptions of how fans view Wright is close to reality.

    David Wright is unappreciated because we take him for granted. I don’t know anyone who thinks that thinks Zimmermann is better than Wright(it’s not even close on the defensive or offensive side), and Longoria entered in the league significantly later than Wright(4 years).

    I also don’t remember people deriding the contract. Most people knew that contract went beyond what he did on the field as Wright will likely continue to be the “face” after he retires.
    Besides an injury-riddle 2011, I haven’t heard anyone complain about Wright not hitting enough.

  4. Scott Ferguson
    November 7, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    People on MLB network were saying the Mets overpaid and I used to hear a lot of people say Zimmerman was better.
    My perception has come from other blogs. If most people feel the way I do, then awesome., thats the way it shpuld be.

    • Sean Flattery
      November 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      You’re right. Chris Rose absolutely killed the Mets on MLBN for signing Wright long term. His argument was that the Mets should basically let Dickey and Wright walk because “they won’t be good for three years at least.” Dumb statement by him, at least Millar checked him tho

      • November 8, 2013 at 9:50 am

        The perception that the Mets will not be competitive for three years IS something I recall, but the Mets could not afford to do a total overhaul and thanks to Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler living up to their potential the three year estimate seems a touch overblown. The Mets might regret Wright’s contract come 2016 but, then again, if they are winning and Wright’s role is reduced (ala Derek Jeter) I don’t think any fans will mind.

    • Name
      November 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Maybe i’m spoiled because I mostly only read the comments section of Mets360, whose posting members are above that of an average fan.

      I guess other sites may not be as lucky.

  5. TexasGusCC
    November 7, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Nice job talking up Wright, as I agree, he IS under appreciated, but don’t agree with some of the points regarding the roster moves.

  6. LGNYM
    November 8, 2013 at 12:31 am

    I think there are three main segments of people on the Wright issue. The largest segment seem to view him as a really good player. But I think that segment fails to realize how great he is and has been. Particularly over the course of his full career and these last 2 years. I think back in 2006-2008 he was more known for being “great” but since these past few yrs the Mets have stunk and not generated much positive attention Wright gets overlooked. And he doesn’t have those huge HR/RBI numbers that many look to. And I think many people know he kinda faded a bit from 2009-2011, but haven’t quite realized how much he has bounced back the last 2 yrs.

    Another segment of fans and “experts” (mainly the advanced stats loving nerds) fully understand how great Wright is. Brian Kenney comes to mind. Broadcasters of other teams often rave about Wright

    Then there is the segment of Mets fans who for some reason don’t believe Wright is anything better than an “average at best” to slightly above average player. I do not understand those people.

    • November 8, 2013 at 12:55 am

      Wright was great because he had Carlos Delgado hitting behind him and pitchers had to pitch to him. Post-Delgado other than the 1 good year Ike had Wright has had to learn and accept that pitchers were not going to pitch to him. He’s the only consistent threat in the line-up. So opposing teams circle hie name and say that’s the one player we can’t allow to beat us. He’s matured and accepted his role was class. You never hear or read any negative stories on or off the field about him. He really is the heart of the team and accepts the responsibility that comes with it,

      • LGNYM
        November 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm

        I think the “Wright was great b/c he had Delgado behind him” is also a myth. Sure it helps to have other good players on your team, but Wright wasn’t great just b/c of Delgado. Wright was great in 2005 which was before Delgado was on the team. And Wright was great in 2006 when he hit behind Delgado. And Wright was great in 2007 when Delgado wasn’t all that good (and Wright spend some time hitting behind him that year too). 2008 was both good and hitting behind Wright for most of the season. (And even that year Delgado was somewhat meh in the first half).

        • LGNYM
          November 9, 2013 at 9:16 pm

          Ooops meant to say at the end that 2008 was the only year that Delgado was both good and hitting behind Wright for a long period of time.

          And of course the last 2 years Wright has also been great sans Delgado. So I don’t think Delgado was really why Wright was great. But having other good hitters in the lineup certainly do help with those HR and RBI numbers.

  7. November 8, 2013 at 12:42 am

    Would of been better to stick to your lead topic and write another follow up blog in regards to Eric young. But I found it interesting that you choose Wright as being top 20 and coincidentally his WAR ranks him 20. When you start to compare players from past Eras don’t forget a) how many teams there were b) how many games they played. We can always take any number of stats and mold them to fit our argument. It doesn’t lessen Wright’s qualities as a team leader. Yes he is under appreciated. I dislike projecting numbers since you don’t know if Wright will have any major injuries down the road. A hamstring injury alone him 2 months in 2013.
    Question for you Scott. What is your infatuation with Hart? Do you think the Mets are in need of a DH who had surgery on his left knee in January 2013 and then had micro surgery on his right knee in June of 2013? Hasn’t the team signed enough players with questionable health issues? Moving Murphy to first negates any idea of signing Hart,Cuddyer or Morse. You can’t have it both ways. Murphy will probably make in the 5 million dollar range after arbitration. Sign Peralta to play shortstop. Trade for CarGo? Yes. I think you’re offering the Rockies too many unproven players for one their stars. What if they ask for Lagares, Davis or Duda, Murphy and Montero? Would you still make the trade?

  8. Scott Ferguson
    November 8, 2013 at 7:48 am

    I would 100% do that trade. I like Lagares a lot, but he’s not Cargo in terms of talent and doesn’t project as high as a prospect as Puello. If that’s the deal, Den Dekker could man center in some sort of platoon (Chris Young or someone like him) and now you have more variety in who you choose for the other corner spot.
    Hart can be had short term (one year) and offers high power potential. My focus has been about middle order hitters as they can get those this year and can get them on short deals.
    Obviously Hart or Morse aren’t ideal, but they’re options that will come cheap, can lengthen the lineup and if they aren’t successful, the commitment is short term.

  9. November 8, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Say Morse wants 5-7 million dollars for 1 season to play right and first base. Since Gonzalez is only making 11 million dollars in 2014 why not sign Choo for 16 million at 4 years instead. You solve 2 problems with one player and your corner outfielders are set for the next 4 years. Trading Davis and Murphy in the package for CarGo saves you 8 million dollars. Sign Peralta(3 year@10 million)and move Tejada as his back up who can also play Second base on occasion. The payroll would be at 75 million including Parnell,Hawkins and 4 minimum salaried pitchers in the pen and Niese,Gee,Wheeler,Dice-K or Harang and one of the kids for the 5th spot. Young or Flores at second base and if the team had any cojones Ellsbury at center field bringing the total payroll to 95+ million dollars.

  10. Scott Ferguson
    November 8, 2013 at 10:10 am

    That’s a great idea and I’d be all for it. I see one issue:
    Are you still willing to sign Choo if the contract is six years 100 million? If it’s 4 and 64 for Choo like you suggest, do it now. All signs are showing it’s going to be a lot more though.
    Everything else about your plan is awesome. That would be a hell of a lineup:
    Add Hawkins and a pitcher (I’m all for John Lannen as a lefty five starter) and that’s a team that could contend for a wild card.

  11. November 8, 2013 at 10:28 am

    I would sigh Choo even at the 100 million dollar mark. He’s that valuable to any team. Besides You know exactly what you’re getting and you’ll see an increase in attendance which helps the team stay competitive. Your starting line-up is around 63 million. Bull pen 7 million, starting pitchers 12-15 million, 6 reserves 5 million? 90 million payroll with a reasonable shot at a wildcard.

  12. November 10, 2013 at 12:33 am

    It doesn’t hurt to have a teammate like Delgado adding to Wright’s confidence. SO if Wright was already an established star what happened when he only hit 10 home runs in Citifield? Baseball as in any other sport is about confidence and trusting ones abilities to adapt.Yes He hit behind Delgado and had a good season after Delgado was no longer with the Mets. But when you continua to put weak hitters behind you in the line up pitchers stop pitching to you. There’s no need for giving Wright anything good to hit since he’s the only threat in the line up. kudos to him for making the adjustments.

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