New York Mets third baseman David Wright hasn’t gotten much ink this spring; in fact, he’s almost been an afterthought when discussing the 2014 Mets. Everyone just kind of assumes Wright will be what he’s always been – an All-Star caliber player anchoring the hot corner who brings a career line of .301/.382/.586 to the table.
However, Wright is getting old, and injuries have been mounting the past few years. He hasn’t hit 30 HR in a season since 2008, or had more than 100 RBI since 2010. If this becomes the third out of four years where Wright doesn’t reach 500 at bats, the Mets could be in trouble — big trouble.
At 31, “Captain America” should have several seasons before his twilight officially dawns. Figuring out exactly how many starts with how he produces this year is one of the most important of Wright’s career. Perhaps as an acknowledgement to his age and early injury history — he’s suffered setbacks in each of the past two springs — Wright made the decision, along with Mets manager Terry Collins, to take a more managed approach while in Port St. Lucie.
An 0-for-3 effort on Mar. 7 against the St. Louis Cardinals marked Wright’s first game action of spring; this after an offseason where Wright began focusing on his hamstring flexibility and strengthening his core. The hitless results so far (he also went 0-3 against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday) aren’t as important, making sure Wright is in top shape entering the season.
“I’m a lot more prepared now than I have been in recent spring trainings, and I think I’ll actually get a little more out of it,” Wright recently told the Star Ledger.
If healthy for the entire year, and if Curtis Granderson does his job, there is no reason to believe Wright can’t put together a near-MVP level campaign like he did in 2012 (.306/.391/.492 in 156 games played with 21 HR and 93 RBI, 6th in MVP voting).
For the Mets to compete on any level, Wright has to be that good. When he isn’t knocking in Daniel Murphy or Eric Young Jr. (please let that end up being a typo), he’d better be getting on base for Granderson and Brandon Belt (wait, what? Really!?)
If hurt, or worse, Wright is healthy but unproductive, a long, hard winter will give way to a long, hard summer in Queens.
Call me hopeful, but I expect Wright to put up surprising numbers in 2014 (north of 25 homers and 90 RBI), keeping him in the “MLB‘s best third basemen” discussion.
He has reached the stage of his career where the physical tools to excel still exist and his mental approach has fully adapted to the grind of a 162-game schedule — the “Jedi stage.”
Wright, the next “Face of Baseball” with Derek Jeter‘s impending retirement, is still plenty strong with the Force; whether he’s strong enough to mind-trick the Mets into producing runs at an acceptable rate remains to be seen.