The Top 50 Mets of All Time: #40 David Wright

Afer helping to lead the Mets to the 2000 World Series, Mike Hampton fled to the Rockies as a free agent, citing Colorado's better schools as his primary motive for leaving. As compensation for the loss of Hampton, the Mets were awarded Colorado's first round pick in the 2001 amateur draft along with a "sandwich" pick that would be used between the first and second rounds. With their first pick, eighteenth overall, the Mets selected Aaron Heilman. With their sandwich pick they chose David Wright out of Hickory High School in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Year  Team         Lg   Age  Lvl   AB  XBH  BB  AVG/OBP/SLG
-----------------------------------------------------------
2001  Kingsport    App   18  Rk   120   11  16  300/391/458
2002  Capital City SAL   19  A    496   43  76  266/367/401
2003  St. Lucie    FSL   20  A+   466   56  72  270/369/459
2004  Binghamton   East  21  AA   223   37  39  363/467/619
2004  Norfolk      IL    21  AAA  114   16  16  298/388/579
Wright signed within a month of being drafted and reported to Kingsport of the Appalachian League, showing good discipline and decent pop in his first taste of professional ball. He began the 2002 season with Capital City of the South Atlantic League and struggled a bit with his average. His power dropped off a bit from the limited action he saw in the prior year, but much of that can be attributed to the dip in average. He displayed outstanding plate discipline for a nineteen-year-old, walking 76 times in 496 at-bats. Many players never develop that kind of strike zone judgement, so Wright's mastery so early on was a great indicator of future success.

Wright continued his climb through the Mets' farm system with a promotion to High-A St. Lucie in 2003. He maintained his batting average and terrific discipline and saw a nice bump in his power production, improving his extra-base hit rate from 8.6% to 12%. That he was two years younger than his competition at every level made his development even more impressive. But even Wright's steady rise up the Mets' organizational ladder couldn't have prepared the front office for what would happen next.

Wright advanced to Double-A Binghamton as a 21-year-old and immediately established himself as a dominating force; a man playing against little boys. In 223 at-bats Wright tore up Eastern League pitching to the tune of a .363/.467/.619 batting line. He hit for average, he hit for power, he drew walks. After easing him through one season apiece at three different minor league levels, the Mets wasted no time in promoting Wright to Triple-A Norfolk, just a stone's throw from his childhood home.

Wright spent all of 31 games in Triple-A before making his inexorable debut at Shea Stadium on July 21, 2004.

Year  Age   PA  XBH  BB  AVG/OBP/SLG   EQA  WARP3   VORP
--------------------------------------------------------
2004   21  283   32  14  293/332/525  .289    2.2   17.2
2005   22  657   70  72  306/388/523  .310    9.5   57.2
2006   23  661   71  66  311/381/531  .307   10.2   54.3
Wright went hitless in four plate appearances in his first big league game, but bounced back to go 2-for-4 in his encore, lining a one-out, fifth-inning double to left off of Zach Day. He would come around to score on a Jose Reyes groundout in a game the Mets would eventually lose 4-1. After thirty games Wright was hitting .300/.328/.533, and still just 21-years-old he was establishing himself as one of the bright young stars of the game. He wound up leading the team in both batting average and slugging percentage, and trailed only Cliff Floyd in on-base percentage among starters. The only thing Wright didn't do particularly well in his rookie year was draw walks. In the minor leagues he had always drawn at least one walk per ten at-bats, but in his first exposure to Major League pitching he collected only fourteen in 263 at-bats.

Wright only got better in his sophomore campaign, appearing in 160 games and improving his batting average to .306 while exhibiting considerably improved plate discipline. Wright can be forgiven for being a bit anxious in his first go-round, but he adjusted very well in walking 72 times and bumping his on-base percentage up to .388, besting runner-up Floyd by 30 points. He even picked up a few MVP votes, finishing 19th in the balloting.

Wright began the 2006 season on fire, batting .316/.386/.575 in the first half with 39 walks and 45 extra-base hits. Wright's power surge led to an All Star Game selection and an invitation to its annual homerun derby, during which he admirably finished second to Philadelphia's Ryan Howard. Subsequent to the derby, Wright struggled in the second half to reproduce the power he demonstrated in the first. Some blame the so-called homerun derby jinx, though Howard had no such trouble as he mashed his way to a league-high 58 homeruns. Wright did well to maintain his batting and on-base rates despite the reduced power production, and his persistence paid off as his September slugging percentage spiked up to .551 after two down months.

It's hard to say what is yet to come for David Wright. His first two-plus years with the Mets have been as good as any in the team's history, and he is only now entering his age-24 season. If he continues to hit the way he has to this point, his position on this list in the coming years will assuredly rocket northward.

Sources

David Wright at Baseball-Reference.com
David Wright at Baseball Prospectus
David Wright at The Baseball Cube

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