2011 Postmortem: Third Base

2011 Postmortem: A position-by-position look back at the season with some preliminary thoughts on 2012.

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It feels like decades ago that David Wright last played like a superstar. Shea-era memories of his all-around terrific performance have have been blocked out by his strikeout-heavy, but charity-benefiting, decline the last three seasons. Wright seemed like a solid bet for Hall of Fame induction after his 2008 season; such a wager would be silly now.

2011 marked Wright's worst season in the majors, at a time when he should be in the thick of his prime. It also marked the first time he missed a significant portion of the season due to injury (with the Matt Cain-induced 15-day DL trip not considered significant). After struggling through the first month and a half of the season, he was placed on the DL with a stress fracture in his back. Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy filled in adequately at third base during Wright's two months off and he returned in late July with a vengeance. In his first 179 plate appearances post-DL, he tripled slashed .325/.397/.535 and we were all giddy at the prospect of a reborn DW. But he slumped in September and fell almost all the way back to his pre-injury production levels.

The defensive metrics and the eye test have not been favorable to Wright's defense these last few years. He committed 19 errors in just 102 games this season. His throws are an adventure. It's not yet time for a position change but it seems inevitable. A move towards the easier end of the defensive spectrum would continue to depress his value, should his offense fail to improve.

To interject some positivity into this otherwise gloomy review, it's worth noting that Wright's contact rate and swinging strike rate improved this season after worsening in each of the last two. That's all I've got.

In a down year for NL third basemen, the Mets received decent contributions at the hot corner. Still, a sub-.800 OPS and poor defense from Wright was disappointing, and it will be tough to justify paying big money for that kind of production going forward. His trade value isn't all that high right now. Regardless, the front office should explore interest from other teams. It's boring to repeat but any opportunity to make a move that improves the team should be entertained. It's merely an educated guess but I doubt Wright is traded this winter. Here's to a healthy, restful offseason for Wright and his regaining that 2005-2008 form at (renovated?) Citi Field.

Desired 2012 starting third baseman: David Wright

Projected 2012 starting third baseman: David Wright

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