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Amazin' Avenue Mets Awards: Best Hitter

It says a lot about David Wright's career to this point that a .283/.354/.503 season is completely unsatisfying. The rest of the 2010 Mets offense was mostly awful, so to whatever degree a hitter can be protected by his lineup (a debatable proposition), Wright was done few favors by his teammates. Nevertheless, he was the best hitter on the team even if it was his worst full season as a big leaguer, as he struck out more often than he ever had before and walked less frequently than in any season since 2006.

It's also looking more and more like Wright is a really bad defensive third baseman. Whatever your opinion of range-based fielding stats, when they all say that you're well below average then either they're all missing the same thing or, more likely, you aren't very good. That makes two straight seasons of awful defense after two years of above-averageness.

The good news is that the power Wright seemed to have lost when the Mets moved to Citi Field in 2009 returned in full in 2010, falling nicely in line with his pre-Citi performance. Double and home run totals were back where they should be, which should come as a relief to Mets fans (and the Mets, of course).

If I can digress for a moment here, there is one interesting anomaly in Wright's profile this past season involving his batted ball types. Batted balls generally fall into one of three categories: fly balls, ground balls, and line drives. Predictively speaking, a player who hits a ton of line drives can usually be expected to pick up plenty of extra-base hits (and singles too, naturally). Wright has historically hit a lot of line drives, but something funky happened in 2010.

2005 25.60% 39.40% 35.10%
2006 19.50% 36.50% 44.00%
2007 23.20% 39.30% 37.50%
2008 25.60% 36.20% 38.20%
2009 25.70% 38.40% 35.90%
2010 18.90% 38.40% 42.70%

For most of his career, line drives accounted for a quarter of balls that Wright put into play. His 2006 season didn't fit that profile, nor did his 2010 season. I can't really say what was different about those years, though I'm certainly open to any pet theories. One possibility is just random variation, which occurs all the time in baseball (even over full seasons). Another explanation is that something about Wright's swing might have been wonky, but I don't really know enough to confirm or refute this with any authority. One final theory is that the batted ball types were simply placed in the wrong category: balls that were line drives in 2009 were tagged as flies in 2010. Maybe he hit a dozen or so fliners that were categorized differently from one year to the next.

Whatever the reason, it's probably little more than a point of statistical esoterica, but I thought it interesting enough to share. I don't think it should cloud the more salient points that:

a) Wright's power outage in 2009 appears to have been an outlier
b) his growing propensity for the whiff is discouraging
c) his walk rate dipped this year, hopefully just a temporary drop
d) he's still the best hitter on the Mets

Here is how everyone voted.

1st 2nd 3rd
Alex David Wright Angel Pagan Ike Davis
Eno David Wright Angel Pagan Ike Davis
Eric David Wright Angel Pagan Ike Davis
James David Wright Ike Davis Angel Pagan
Joe David Wright Angel Pagan Ike Davis
Mark David Wright Angel Pagan Ike Davis
Matthew David Wright Angel Pagan Ike Davis
Rob David Wright Angel Pagan Ike Davis
Sam David Wright Ike Davis Angel Pagan

And here is the final vote tally.

Player Points
David Wright 27
Angel Pagan 16
Ike Davis 11