2012 Postmortem: A position-by-position look back at the season with some preliminary thoughts on 2013. Plate appearances, OPS, and fWAR for each player represent statistics posted at all positions, not just the position in review. OPS is on-base percentage plus slugging percentage. fWAR is FanGraphs wins above replacement -- read more about it here.
Links to positions previously covered:
It was tough to be optimistic about David Wright heading into 2012. He endured a career-worst season in 2011, during which he suffered a back injury. His offense and defense continued to decline from his 2005-2008 prime years. On top of that, he injured his oblique in spring training this year. So his terrific all-around 2012 season came as a surprise to most Mets fans with conservative expectations.
Wright had an MVP-caliber first half of the season that surpassed even his best seasons in terms of slash line production. He was hitting .351/.441/.563 at the All-Star break with 11 home runs. His walks (50) exceeded his strikeouts (47), a particularly encouraging development given how he was trending in those departments in recent seasons. Plus, his defense looked better than ever. David Wright was back! The second half of the season did not go nearly as well, however, further muddling what should be expected from him in the future.
The 2011 version of Wright showed up in the second half. His slash line was just .258/.334/.416. His strikeout rate rose, while his walk rate and power declined. It wasn't fun to watch, but not much in the Mets' second half was. So how should we project Wright going forward? Was the first half of 2012 an aberration, with 2009-2011 and the second half of 2012 the new normal? Or is he the superstar that his overall 2012 numbers suggest? My best guess is that he's a true talent level .860 OPS hitter with just-above-average defense right now. That translates to a 4 or 5 WAR player, which is worth a bit more than the $16 million the Mets will pay Wright in 2013 after picking up his option. Of course, Wright is a free agent after next season, and since the Mets don't have Yankees or Red Sox money the question of whether to re-sign or trade is a tricky one to answer.
For the majority of Mets fans who would love to see Wright spend the next six or seven seasons in Flushing, Wright's second half of suck might be a blessing. Had he maintained is scorched-earth pace through game 162, his price tag for an extension or in free agency would probably have skyrocketed to ~$200 million. This would have made the re-sign/trade decision easier; the haul for a player coming off an MVP season would be substantial and hard to pass up. The cost of an extension looks to be something like 7 years, $126 million, including the 2013 option. Considering this cost, the Mets should pursue an extension with Wright, although it's not an no-brainer decision. I can see the case for a trade as well; this is not something my logical side feels too strongly about. My emotional side would be devastated by a Wright departure but reason trumps emotion. Make an honest attempt to keep him but if a trade must happen, don't let it be for Peter Bourjos.
I have a confession: I'm not as big a Justin Turner hater as most saber-minded Mets fans seem to be. This is not to say I'm thrilled about his presence on the roster; I just think his shortcomings are too often overstated. He is not Alex Cora redux. Over two seasons with the Mets, he's posted a .262/.330/.366 slash line in 672 plate appearances. That's slightly below average and not horrendous for a reserve. If he played better defense, and could handle the shortstop position, he would be a useful player off the bench. Unfortunately, he is nothing special with the glove, making him below-average both at the plate and in the field. Shop him to any team with interest allegedly clutch hitters and post-game pies to the face.
David Wright, the best Mets position player ever, will likely be back in 2013, extension or not. It's only November but I can't wait to see him back on the field next spring. Just as long as he stops trying to steal bases.
Projected 2013 starting third baseman: David Wright