An April hamstring injury followed by a diagnosis of spinal stenosis forced Mets third baseman David Wright off the field for over four months but after a long rehab, the captain is set to make his much anticipated return to the lineup tonight in Philadelphia. Since Wright left the Mets' game on April 14th against these same Phillies, the Mets have managed to go 62-53, a testament to an outstanding pitching staff that has kept the team afloat and much improved hitting since the promotion of Michael Conforto and the acquisitions of Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe, and Kelly Johnson.
With a five-game lead in the NL East over the Nationals, the Mets are in the midst of their best season since 2008 but that doesn't make the return of Wright this evening any less important. Make no mistake that this Mets team is immensely better with David Wright in the lineup and playing third base. I see it as my duty to remind both Mets fans and baseball fans alike just how great David Wright is, so let's take a look back at some of the best games and moments from his storied 12 year major league career.
August 9, 2005: David Wright catches a popup over the shoulder with his bare hand
This catch against the Padres in 2005 is one of the most unbelievable highlights I've ever seen watching a baseball game. Padres outfielder Brian Giles gets sawed off by Mets legend Dae-Sung Koo and dunks a little dying quail behind third base for a hit. Or at least I'm sure he thought. Nobody expected David Wright to catch that, much less with his bare throwing hand.
May 19, 2006: David Wright beats Mariano Rivera with a walk-off hit
A couple of David's greatest moments have come against the mostly untouchable Yankees closer. This one, hit over the head of center fielder Johnny Damon on a Friday evening in 2006, felt like it was up in the air forever. When the ball landed, it felt like the 2006 Mets were for real. Boy, were they.
July 12, 2006: David Wright hits a home run on the first pitch he sees in the All-Star game
A day after hitting 22 home runs in his first All-Star home run derby in Pittsburgh, David launched his first All-Star game home run on the first pitch he saw. Quite an introduction to the national stage for the 23-year old.
August 7, 2008: David Wright beats Heath Bell with a walk-off home run
While his team wilted down the stretch in 2007 and 2008, David Wright did not. His excellence in August (1.172 OPS) and September (1.034 OPS) 2007 rolled over into August (.945 OPS) and September (.993 OPS) 2008 as he fought hard to stave off disappointment. This home run off of Heath Bell is the lone walk-off home run of his career.
April 2009: David Wright hits the first Mets home run at Citi Field
When the Mets christened their new ballpark in 2009, it was only fitting that their captain hit the team's first home run in the new digs. This game tying shot made Citi Field feel like home and though the positive memories there are still few, maybe David has some more like this in him in the near future.
July 5, 2012: David Wright beats Jonathan Papelbon with a walk-off bloop hit
In the midst of a lost season or five, it was always nice to have a moment such as this to look back on. Against the tough Phillies' closer, David provided a game winner in one of the best victories of the year.
March 10, 2013: David Wright's clutch grand slam gives Team USA a lead over Team Italy in the WBC
It's not a Mets highlight but seeing David Wright actually play in a game of some meaning, much less get the big hit in that game, was great at the time. This September and October could be really great.
May 3, 2013: David Wright takes Craig Kimbrel deep to tie the game in the 9th inning
Being down a run in the ninth inning against Kimbrel is typically daunting but David Wright launched this ball to dead center to tie things up on this evening.
May 28, 2013: David Wright knocks in a run against Mariano Rivera in the 9th, tying the game at 1-1
David's other highlight against Mariano Rivera, this single smoked up the middle nearly took out teammate Daniel Murphy who used a Matrix move to get out of the way. Wright's bullet tied a tense ballgame that Lucas Duda would win with a single just moments later. Mariano's final game at the Mets' home, this was a little "going-away present" for the future Hall of Famer.
A few more David Wright notes:
- David has had 20 career four hit games and 20 career two home run games, though only twice has he accomplished both feats in the same game (August 24, 2005 and September 14, 2008).
- With a 1176 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) and 1.999 wOBA (weighted on base average), David's best game occurred on May 19, 2007. In 5 plate appearances, he went 2-2 with two home runs, 3 walks, scored 3 runs, and contributed 4 runs batted in. He also stole a base for good measure.
- Since 2004, David ranks 5th in the majors in Fangraphs WAR (wins above replacement) among active position players at 52.1 behind Albert Pujols (68.3), Miguel Cabrera (62.0), Chase Utley (60.4), and Adrian Beltre (57.1). Alex Rodriguez is right behind David at 52.0.
- David's career wRC+ is 133, 16th all-time among third basemen. His mark is higher than Hall of Famers George Brett (132), Wade Boggs (132), Ron Santo (126), Paul Molitor (122), Jimmy Collins (111), and Brooks Robinson (104).
- By Fangraphs WAR, David's 52.1 mark is first among Mets position players all-time, ahead of Darryl Strawberry who is 2nd at 35.5 WAR. Wright comes in 3rd among all players behind Tom Seaver (67.7) and Dwight Gooden (52.4), and ahead of Jerry Koosman (41.1).
- By wRC+, David 133 mark ranks 4th all-time among Mets hitters behind John Olerud (146), Darryl Strawberry (143), and Mike Piazza (134).
Have more David Wright moments, memories, or stats that we left out? Share them with us in the comments below! Welcome back, David!