David Wright finished the first half of 2014 on a high note. Now, the 31-year-old third baseman could be the key to whether the New York Mets sink, swim, or tread water in the second half.
In a lineup of nine batters, it’s far-fetched to say one player can turn an entire team around. But if Wright can get back to where he was last year — hitting .300, getting on base nearly 40 percent of the time, and slugging .500 — the complexion of the lineup would change.
The difference between this year and the last couple is that he has help. Yes, the Mets offense got off to a slow start, but they’ve been improving for over a month now. This year, the Mets are seventh in the National League in runs scored with 383. Last year, they were 11th in the NL. This year, they’re also first in walks, fifth in doubles, and fourth in stolen bases.
Curtis Granderson is having a Curtis Granderson type season, even after compiling a sub-.500 OPS in April. Lucas Duda has nailed down the first base job since the departure of Ike Davis, and he leads the team in OPS with an .832 mark and is tied with Granderson for the team lead in home runs with 14. Daniel Murphy deservedly represented the Mets at the All-Star Game, and Juan Lagares, when healthy, has been very good at the plate, batting .293. Travis d’Arnaud has been hitting the way everyone expected him to since his recall from Triple-A. And New York is even getting contributions off the bench from rookie Eric Campbell and the recently recalled Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
Having Wright in the middle of all of that, hitting the way he can, was a big reason why the Mets won eight of their last ten games of the first half. From June 16 on, he’s hit .375/.418/.681 with four homers and 15 RBIs. His BABIP in that time is .371, which isn’t terribly unsustainable. If Wright can stay healthy and keep hitting in a manner commensurate with his career norms, the Mets offense just may stay hot enough to give the Mets a chance in the second half.