David Wright, when healthy, was one that was on track to be in the Hall of Fame. Wright was among the best third basemen in the majors for several years. From 2005-2012 he was the face of the New York Mets. His rookie season, 2004, was not a bad year either. As Wright’s career progressed, he was ravaged by injuries, the big one being spinal stenosis. Wright was first discovered to have a chronic back injury back in 2015 while rehabbing a hamstring injury. He would miss over 120 games that season and then 120 more in 2016. After missing all of the 2017 season, Wright announced he would be retiring after the 2018 campaign. He fought for the entirety of the season and played two games. Although Wright’s career was cut short, he holds a special place in every Met fan’s heart. Here is a look back.
In 2004, Wright broke into the league as one of the most talked-about prospects in Major League Baseball. He did not disappoint, hitting 14 home runs and knocking in 40 RBIs in just 69 games. The Mets were underwhelming as a team, but a young dynamic duo emerged in Queens. Jose Reyes and David Wright were taking over the left side of the Mets infield. In 2005 the duo played in 160 games together. With the speedster Reyes in front of him, Wright had many opportunities to drive in runs. He capitalized often, driving in 102 runs and hitting 27 home runs. Wright also had a .306 batting average, but Wright was still getting better.
After the impressive 2005 season, Wright solidified himself as a top 3rd baseman in the Major Leagues, thanks to a tremendous 2006 season. Wright played in 154 games en route to a National League East championship with the Mets. In his second full season, Wright hit 26 home runs and knocked in 116 runs. He would build on his 2006 success in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, Wright was an all-star for the second time in a row and hit 30 home runs for the first time in his career. Wright had 107 RBIs for a Mets team that should have made the playoffs but did not thanks to a late-season collapse. In 2008, Wright had the best offensive season of his career. He eclipsed the 30 home run mark again, hitting 33 this time. Additionally, he tied Mike Piazza for the Mets’ single-season RBI record (124).
Why So Much Success?
Much of the success of Wright’s career from 2005-2008 could be attributed to the extremely dangerous Met lineup that surrounded him. In addition to Reyes, the Mets had Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado in their lineup during that stretch. Having that protection behind Wright in the order forced pitchers to throw him strikes. David Wright, being one of the most talented players in Mets history, never missed a chance to take advantage of a good pitch.
Wright had a big dip in power production during the 2009 season when the Mets opened Citi Field. He thrived off of driving balls to the right-center field gap, could no longer find his power allies. For instance, a big portion of right-center field at Shea Stadium was 377 feet away from home plate. At Citi Field, the right-center field gap was 415 feet away from home plate. Balls that would’ve been home runs at Shea Stadium, would not get out of Citi Field. In 2010, Wright made an adjustment. He hit 29 home runs and knocked in 103 RBIs, keeping him around the top 3rd baseman in the league, even after his 10 homers 72 RBI season.
David Wright’s dominant era of baseball continued into 2011 and 2012. Though playing just 102 games in 2011, Wright had 14 homers and 61 RBIs, a 22 HR, 97 RBI pace. This was the first season since 2005 where Wright did not play in at least 140 games, but he still had a heck of a year. In 2012, Wright almost matched his pace from 2011. He played in 156 games, had 21 homers, and 93 RBIs. Unfortunately for Wright, this is where his career would begin to fall off.
The Beginning of The End
In 2013, Wright simply did not play enough to keep his production up. When he was on the field for his 112 games, he had 15 home runs and 58 RBIs, a healthy 26 HR, 84 RBI pace. Had Wright been healthy for the full season, chances are he continues his high level of production. In 2014, Wright’s power took the biggest downturn of his career. Though playing 134 games, Wright compiled just eight home runs and 64 RBIs. This would be his last season playing in more than 40 games, let alone 100. In 2015, Wright suffered a hamstring injury sliding into second base while attempting a stolen base against the Phillies. While rehabbing that injury, it was discovered that Wright had spinal stenosis, a chronic back injury that narrows the spaces between the spine.
Wright would miss games spanning from April to August during the 2015 season. He eventually decided that he was ready to play and came back into the lineup in Philadelphia. In his first at bat, Wright hit a home run, he was back. Down the stretch, Wright would come up big in several spots, but perhaps his two biggest blows came in the playoffs.
The 2015 Playoffs
In-game one of the NLDS against the Dodgers, the Mets led by a score of 1-0. With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, the Dodgers opted to pull Clayton Kershaw with Wright coming up. After working the count to 3-2, Wright took Pedro Baez’s fastball into center field for a two run single. That would prove to score the game deciding run in a 3-1 Mets victory.
David Wright’s other clutch playoff moment came in the first inning of the first world series game at Citi Field. In game three of the world series, the Mets trailed 2-0 in the series and 1-0 in the game. With a runner on first and no one out, Wright connected with a Yordano Ventura fastball and sent it into the left field seats. The Mets would go on to win the game, but that home run is what gave them a spark. It got the fans into the game and let the Mets know that they were behind them.
The Later Years
In 2016, Wright was able to start the season but suffered a herniated disk in his neck in May. The neck injury would hold him out for the rest of the 2016 season and setbacks in both his neck and back would hold him out for all of 2017 and until the end of 2018. For Wright, his career was on a hall of fame path if not for injuries. Through his age 31 season in 2014, Wright amassed 230 home runs, 939 RBIs, and 1702 hits. Wright played a combined total of 75 games in his age 32 and 33 seasons. He sat out and retired after his age 34 and 35 seasons.
Had Wright stayed healthy he likely would have been a hall of famer. Wright would have just completed his age 37 season in 2020 and his huge contract would have just ended. If healthy enough to keep playing, Wright would have re-signed in New York. Let’s say that through Wright’s age 35 season he continued to put up solid power numbers at anywhere between 15-20 home runs. That would have put him anywhere between 290 and 310 homeruns. If he continued on his pace of around 160 hits per season, Wright would have over 2,300 hits for his career. If Wright collected around 70-80 RBIs per year, he would have nearly, or over, 1,300 RBIs though his age 35 season.
David Wright had perhaps one of the best careers in Mets history. Had he stayed healthy, he would have been a Hall of Famer. Though he likely will not be enshrined in Cooperstown, Wright will most definitely be a Mets Hall of Famer and have his number five retired forever. Wright served as captain of the Mets from 2013 until his retirement. He was a fan favorite and will always hold a special place in Mets fans’ hearts.