There isn’t much David Wright hasn’t seen since he burst onto the New York scene ten years ago. The highs, lows, laughable, and shake-your-head moments have all been a part of the 31-year-old’s daily routine since making his major league debut on July 21, 2004. Through it all, the Mets’ captain has stayed true to his blue-and-orange roots with class and professionalism. But make no mistake, he wants to win badly and as Mike Vorkunov of the Star-Ledger notes, the importance of the upcoming offseason is already on Wright’s mind.
“No question. I think that we get to this winter and we have this ability with a surplus of young talent—especially young pitching—to make a move. And on top of that you have a guy that’s a proven ace of the staff coming back, a guy that’s a proven closer coming back from Tommy John. More time and development for Travis d’Arnaud—where he’s taken tremendous steps and strides forward—Lucas Duda, tremendous strides forward. You get to the point where you see Matt Harvey coming back, you see Bobby Parnell coming back. And then the development of some of those young players.”
While Wright will leave the trades and free-agent signings to GM Sandy Alderson, a bigger question is starting to emerge: Did the Mets waste the prime years of Wright’s career?
As Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud begin to emerge as key pieces to the future, Wright is suffering through the worst uninterrupted season of his career. In the 14 games since the All-Star break, Wright is hitting .170/.241/.289 with no homers and four RBI. Following last night’s 0-for–3 effort in the Mets’ 5–1 loss to the Giants, Wright’s average is down to .270 for the year, the lowest it has been this late in a season since he finished 2011 hitting .254—a year during which he missed 60 games due to a stress fracture in his back.
Even more worrisome is the disappearance of power and run-production. Not only is Wright slugging a career low .391, but he is only walking 8% of the time, his lowest figure since his rookie season. Surprisingly, Wright’s BABIP is still a solid .319 while his line-drive rate stands at 23.8%, which is actually higher than his career average of 22.9%. However, his HR/FB%—which currently sits at 6.7%—is his lowest mark ever and far below his career average of 13.3%, negating whatever positives his line-drive rate is yielding.
So, what gives? Is Wright in the midst of a serious decline at the age of 31? Or is the seven-time All-Star simply suffering through a down year? Wright has been playing the last six weeks with a bruised left rotator cuff, yet he insists it has nothing to do with his struggles. That’s a typical response from Wright in regard to poor performance—that is, he’s not making any excuses—but you have to wonder how much his offense is being restricted by the pain in his shoulder. Whatever the reason for a down 2014, the Mets cannot afford to have their captain and face of their franchise be a question mark as they continue to sell their bright future to an exasperated fan base.
Wright himself senses the Mets are on the cusp of something special and that good times in Queens are just around the corner.
"I think we’re getting to the point where we’re really close...I think we’re getting close to that where we are a piece or two away."
The Mets do appear to be getting close, but is this just a bump in the road for Wright or something that may affect his performance—and the Mets’ likelihood of competing—for the foreseeable future?