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2015 Mets season preview: David Wright

Coming off a down year, the third baseman is a good bet to bounce back.

Chris McShane

Doubt David Wright at your own risk. We’ve been down this road before, of course, after Wright—one of the better players in baseball over the past decade—had his then-worst single season in 2011. He bounced back in grand fashion over the following two years, hitting about as well as he ever had, but turned in his worst season as a hitter in 2014, turning in a just a league-average slash line for the first time.

Now 32 years old, it might not be quite as easy to return to form as it was three years ago when he was 29. But people like to categorize things, and Wright is a player who is on the wrong side of thirty with a significant contract extension under his belt. Throw in last year’s down year, and to some, he is clearly in a rapid state of decline. That’s not impossible, but it does not by any means seem like the most likely outcome.

With the Mets since he was drafted in the first round in 2001, Wright made his major league debut in 2004 and stuck. He hit well in 283 plate appearances that year, and his 2005 season, in which he hit .306/.388/.523 with 27 home runs—made it pretty clear that he was in the big leagues to stay for a long time. He was very good in 2006, even better in 2007, and somewhere in between those two seasons in 2008.

The Mets moved in to Citi Field in 2009, and Wright had a down year, at least by his standards, though his 125 wRC+ that year was nothing to sneeze at. Plenty of people fixated on the fact the hit hit just ten home runs, ignoring the notion that it’s still possible to be a good hitter fewer of them. Wright got on base at a .390 clip that year, which was still very good even before baseball’s fairly steep decline in offense over the following years.

In 2010, Wright hit 29 home runs but had a 129 wRC+, mainly because he had a .354 on-base percentage. And then came the aforementioned 2011 season, in which Wright hit just fourteen home runs and had a .345 OBP, his worst combination of avoiding outs and hitting for power yet.

Wright hit 21 and 18 home runs, respectively, in the pair of resurgent seasons that followed. But he hit .306/.391/.492 in 2012 and .307/.390/.514 in 2013. With run production on the decline, those lines were as impressive as the ones he put up several years earlier. By wRC+, Wright’s very best season as a hitter came in 2013.

Not everything has been perfect, of course. Wright has missed significant chunks of time with injuries over the last four years, and last season happened. But for a guy with such a long track record who hit very well not that long ago, I’d take the over on the Wright’s projections this year.