There are two projections I'll make: one pessimistic and one optimistic. For the pessimism, I regress Dub's BABIP to his career .350 and keep his K%, XBH% , BB%, GB/LD/FB and HR/FB constant.
A .350 BABIP over (297 ABs - 82 Ks) is 75 hits for a .252 BA. Giving him the same XBH% yields 23 XBHs, and obviously, the same HR/FB results in 5 HRs, since I'm holding his batted ball profile constant. This yields 15 doubles, five homers and 3 triples for 111 total bases and a .373 slugging percentage. His 44 BBs and 2 HBPs give him 121 times on base for a .352 OBP. So David Wright is posting, in reality, a .252/.352/.373 vital stats line that resembles a down year for Luis Castillo. This, for a 3rd baseman in the NL in 2009, is crap.
Let us give him some more generous assumptions. Citi Field has theoretically robbed him of 6 home runs and Wright's LD% is matching his career high of 2008 at 25%. (It's probably safe to say that Wright got unlucky in 2008 given his expected BABIP.) So if we add about 20 points of BABIP and up his homers to 11, the line adjusts to .269/.367/.468.
So, given the most generous assumptions possible, Wright has been a somewhat-above-average NL 3rd baseman. With less generous assumptions, he has been a more-or-less severe liability at the plate. What is dragging all his numbers way down is of course, his inordinate number of strikeouts. This gives a better account of Wright's struggles with making contact better than I ever could.
There is obviously something wrong with David Wright's approach, and I don't think I'm qualified to make a guess about what it is, nor do I trust Keith Hernandez, who quite simply diagnoses the same ailment to every batter who struggles (He's uppercutting, his swing is too long, he's not going the other way, etc.) I don't blame Hernandez for what appears to be an obvious bias in favor of contact hitters and against power hitters and strikeouts, as that was the way he played and his substandard power for his position is what is unjustly keeping him from the Hall of Fame. However, I would like to ask the Mets community if anyone has any clue what is ailing David Wright, how serious it is, and whether they have a clue as to what he should be doing. His current rate of production is simply substandard for a Major League 3rd baseman whose defense has stagnated after much promising improvement over his career, and it is further exascerbated by how awful he looks at the plate. Good pitchers, like Sabbathia, Gallardo, and A.J. Burnett, have made him look like a minor leaguer, and he has occasionally been blown away even by fringe pitchers.
Alex Cora looked much better against Rodrigo Lopez than Wright. I doubt immensely that from this point on, Wright will be a worse hitter than Alex Cora (even in this immensely productive--for Cora--year). But the fact is, our superstar's luck-neutral performance has been average at best and Slappyesque at worst. Does anyone have a clue as to what gives?
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