David Wright returned to MVP-caliber form in 2012 after a disastrous 2011, as he hit .306/.391/.492 (141 wRC+) and posted 7.4 fWAR in 670 plate appearances. However, Wright tailed off significantly in the second half, hitting just .258/.334/.416 (105 wRC+). The Mets were left with an enormous decision: trade Wright for significant prospects and begin a very, very long rebuilding process, or resign him with the idea of competing in the near future.
The Mets elected to do the latter, signing Wright to an $8 year, $138 million contract, voiding the final year of his original deal. A single season has passed since the decision, and in retrospect, it looks like a brilliant decision.
Wright had one of the best seasons of his career in 2013, hitting .307/.390/.514. He also played above average defense again, grading out at +4.9 under UZR/150, and +5 under DRS. Wright finished with 6 fWAR, the fourth time in his career he's done that. His .904 OPS amounted to a 155 wRC+, the highest of his career. It wasn't close to the highest OPS of his career; that came in 2007, when he hit .325/.416/.546 (151 wRC+).
However, the offensive landscape has changed dramatically since 2007. Six years ago, the average third baseman hit .268/.337/.429, while this year the line for an average third baseman was .256/.317/.398. That's essentially the difference between Kyle Seager (.260/.338/.426) and Justin Turner (.280/.319/.385) in 2013.
April was a strong month for Wright, as he posted a .291/.415/.477 (155 wRC+) line in 86 plate appearances. Wright's home-run stroke was limited as he hit just two, both of which came in an 8-4 loss to Colorado on April 16. He managed to offset that by hitting four doubles, three triples, and drawing 19 walks compared to only 17 strikeouts.
The month of May saw Wright's power stroke come to life, as he homered in three straight games to begin it. The second of those came in the Mets 7-5 win over the Braves on May 3, and might have been the most memorable of the Mets season. The Mets were down 5-4 with one out in the ninth, when Wright came to bat against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel. In 2012, right-handed batters hit .136/.183/.204 with just five walks against 55 strikeouts while facing Kimbrel. That meant little to Wright who took a 2-2 fastball from Kimbrel and launched it well over the wall in right-center, tying the game at 5-5. The homer went 464 feet, the longest of the Mets season. Wright finished May with a ..277/.354/.475 line (135 wRC+).
Wright's season would take a big upturn in June as he hit .345/.402/.608 (186 wRC+) with ten doubles and five homers in 101 plate appearances. During June, Wright had nine multi-hit games, including six games with at least three hits. The month also saw him post another multi-homer game, this time against the Braves on June 20, a 4-3 Mets win. July would see Wright slow down somewhat, but he still hit .315/.392/.468 (140 wRC+).
On August 2nd, Wright hit his 16th homer of the season off of Wade Davis. The game also saw Wright's season come to a crashing halt. In the 10th inning of a 2-2 game, Wright legged out an infield hit off of Luis Mendoza. However, he pulled up lame and the next day, Wright was placed on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Wright would miss 45 games with the injury. He would return on September 20, and he did so with style, homering off of Phillies starter Cole Hamels in his first plate appearance. Wright would homer again the next day, this time off Tyler Cloyd. He played just five games after that, going 2-for-14 to end the year.
In many respects, 2013 was a typical David Wright season.
He saw his contact numbers take a turn for the better in 2013. Against pitches in the zone, Wright posted a 90.5% contact rate, the highest of his career. He also posted his highest overall contact rate (83.3%) since 2008. His swinging strike rate was under 8% for the third consecutive year, making his 2010 rate of 10.4% seem like a distant memory.
Wright's career resurgence also saw a return to his dominance against lefties. For his career, Wright hits .337/.435/.578 against southpaws, compared to .289/.363/.483 against right-handers. In 2013, Wright went nuclear against lefties, to the tune of a .336/.467/.605 (199 wRC+) line. In his 115 plate appearances against them, Wright hit six homers, two triples, 10 doubles, and drew 29 walks while striking out only 15 times. His line against righties was modest, .296/.357/.479 (136 wRC+).
Like almost every other Met, Wright was a much more effective baserunner in 2013. After getting caught on 10 of his 25 stolen base attempts in 2012, Wright was successful on 17 of his 20 opportunities in 2013.
The way Wright made contact in 2013 is interesting to note. When pulling the ball, Wright put the ball on the ground in 62.2% of his chances, with a mediocre LD% (17.6%) and absurdly low flyball rate (20.2%; however, Wright also posted an absurd 41% HR/FB rate on pitches he pulled. To center, Wright had a 24.4% line drive rate, a 38.9% groundball rate, and a 36.6% flyball rate. Wright's numbers going to right field were very peculiar; he had a 27.2% line drive rate, but a flyball rate of 64.1% and a groundball rate of just 8.7%.
Those numbers don't tell the whole story, though.
Against right-handed pitching, Wright was a very balanced hitter, going to all fields with an emphasis on center and right field. His power is also evenly spaced, going from left to center, and all the way out to right-center.
Oddly enough, Wright was much more of a pull-hitter against left-handed pitching. The majority of his line drives went to left field, and all but one of his homers against lefties was pulled. However, he hit significantly more flyballs to right and right-center, perhaps an indictment of Citi Field's suppression of right-handed power.
Wright's 2013 showcased just how good of a player he can be when he's fully healthy, and it makes his 2011 look more and more like an anomaly. Unfortunately, it also showed just how weak the Mets roster was.
Much like 2012, Wright was a man on an island this year. Only four Mets with at least 300 plate appearances finished with a wRC+ of over 100. The other three were Marlon Byrd (137), Lucas Duda (120), and Daniel Murphy (106). Wright was also one of only four Mets hitters to finish with over two WAR, the others being Murphy (3.0), Juan Lagares (2.9), and Byrd (3.5). The team finished 23rd in the MLB in runs scored with 619.
The Mets lineup should be less pathetic in 2014 with the additions of Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, a full season of Travis d'Arnaud and the possible addition of a shortstop. For the Mets to be anything more than mediocre, it will once again rely on Wright carrying the bulk of the offensive load.
Entering his age 31 season, Wright still figures to have a couple of elite years left in him. With Miguel Cabrera's move back to first base this offseason, Wright is arguably the best third baseman in baseball. Barring a trade or calamitous injury, Wright will enter 2014 entrenched as the team's third baseman and best hitter, while continuing to serve as the public face of the Mets.
Desired 2014 role: The Mets' starting third baseman
Expected 2014 role: The Mets' starting third baseman