To describe David Wright's 2015 campaign as 'tumultuous' would be an understatement. The Mets captain was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in May, an irreversible condition that would lead to a career-low 38 regular season games played, and permanently change his game routine. After a shoulder injury impaired Wright's success in 2014, it appeared as though 2015 would be yet another lost season for the seven-time All-Star.
And yet, Wright returned from injury to post a .277/.381/.437 slash line from late August through end of the regular season, helping position the Mets for their first playoff berth since 2006. As he circled the bases following his World Series home run off of Yordano Ventura, all appeared well in Wright's world.
A return to 2013 form (Wright's most recent season reaching a .900 OPS) isn't out of question this year, but the team's front office seems to have more grounded expectations. After Wright endured an offseason of minimal physical activities, manager Terry Collins outlined a plan for his third baseman to participate in 10-12 spring training games. General manager Sandy Alderson echoed Collins' sentiments, citing 130 games as a "ceiling" for Wright in 2016. As Ketul Shah noted in his assessment of the team's injury list, though, Wright's compromised 2015 campaign doesn't necessarily indicate a return to the disabled list in 2016.
"I want to stress that the stenosis may not be the cause of any future injury, back-related or elsewhere, and as long as Wright continues to maintain his training regime and takes care of his body (i.e. taking a day off, leaving a game when we are up, etc.) then there is no reason for any prolonged absences from the field."
As of this writing, Wright has participated in intrasquad spring training games, and appears on pace to assume his role as the team's everyday third baseman entering the season. Should he endure a DL stint, or require prolonged rest periods, however, the Mets will be well-equipped to spell Wright at the hot corner. The team recently parted ways with Ruben Tejada, but infielders Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell each hold big league experience at third base. What's more, everyday shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has voiced a willingness to play third base if needed.
|David Wright: 2016 projections||PA||HR||AVG||OBP||SLG||WAR|
Now 33 years old -- and likely playing through substantial back pain -- Wright's days of at least 600 plate appearances may have come to an end. Despite his physical limitations, if Wright can provide a value of at least two wins with 400+ PA, as is projected by ZiPS and Steamer, the 12-year veteran can serve as a catalyst for the team's postseason baseball hunt.