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2005 Preview: Third Base

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2004 METS THIRD-BASEMEN

                 AB      BA     OBP     SLG     OPS
David Wright    263    .293    .332    .525    .857
Ty Wigginton    209    .249    .303    .440    .743
Todd Zeile      155    .226    .305    .355    .659
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All Mets 3B     632    .261    .314    .453    .767
NL 3B           630    .276    .339    .452    .791

David. Wright. Is. Awesome. Did I mention he just turned 22? He was also 6-for-6 in stolen bases in 2004. He slugged an astonishing .525 last year in about a half-season. Do you know how many 21-year-old third-basemen have slugged .525? That would be five. Ever. The others?

                                 SLG    
1    Albert Pujols              .610  
2    Jimmie Foxx                .548  
3    Bob Horner                 .547  
4    Eddie Mathews              .541  

Ever heard of any of those guys? Pujols you already know as the second-best hitter in the game today. Foxx and Mathews have 1046 homeruns and two hall-of-fame plaques between them. Bob Horner is the only one who wasn't an outstanding player, though he won the rookie of the year in 1978 and was generally considered a very good offensive third-baseman.

Of course, none of this means that David Wright will have an outstanding career, but it does show you the kind of company he's rolling with already. Here's what some other current third-basemen did in their age 21 seasons:

                   AB      BA     OBP     SLG     OPS
Adrian Beltre     510    .290    .360    .475    .835
Hank Blalock      147    .211    .306    .327    .632
Eric Chavez       356    .247    .333    .427    .760
Troy Glaus        165    .218    .280    .291    .571
Aramis Ramirez    254    .256    .293    .402    .695 (Age 22)
Scott Rolen       130    .254    .322    .400    .722

Wright was way ahead of all of these guys except for Beltre, who put up similar numbers over more at-bats. Beltre struggled mightily over the next three seasons before exploding last season with an OPS of 1.017.

Looking back a bit further: Mike Schmidt didn't hit the bigs until he was 22. Wade Boggs was 24 when he broke into the league.

Wright also has the perfect attitude, not only for New York, but for big-league baseball in general. He's also been picking up pointers from Straw this Spring Training, per Mets.com:

"Since the moment he walked into the clubhouse, he's been great to everyone, especially me," Wright said. "We talked about different situations, and there are a lot of similarities between the way I feel and how he used to feel in terms of a mental approach. It's a tremendous asset to have him here, because he's so approachable. He genuinely cares when he speaks to you and that says volumes about him.

"I'm standing there and I'm telling myself that I'm talking hitting with Darryl Strawberry. We all know what kind of career he had and for him to share some stuff with me, maybe some of it will rub off. At first, I was a little in awe because I remembered the home runs he hit into the upper deck at Shea Stadium and off the scoreboard. He was a superstar and a hero growing up. I tried to emulate him when I was younger, with my hands dropping and the big leg kick."