What Can We Expect from Wright?
I’m not the first, and I’m not going to be the last to compare David Wright and Don Mattingly. My goal today is to hopefully be a little more nuanced than a side by side comparison. Rather, I want to see exactly how back problems deteriorated Mattingly’s abilities.
Normally, I would use Lenny Dykstra as a comparable because he also has spinal stenosis. However, I don’t know if I can trust any of his stats with his steroids usage. We do know like Wright, Mattingly suffered from a low back injury. The nature of the two injuries are different, but they are both chronic problems.
It appears the problems first surfaced in 1987. In that year, Mattingly went from a 7.2 WAR to a 5.1 WAR player. In essence, he went from a superstar to an All Star player. He would then quickly deteriorate into just a “good” player. Mattingly’s back worsened in 1990, and with that he became a -0.3 player, which translates to a bad player. For the rest of his career, Mattingly would be nothing more than a solid starter. He retired at the early age of 34.
Wright has had a terrific career, arguably better than Mattingly. In 2007 and 2008, Wright was a superstar player, as per WAR. In 2009, the Mets moved to Citi Field and Wright was nothing more than a solid starter. In 2010, Wright suffered a broken back. Unlike Mattingly, Wright would rebound from his back injury to put up superstar numbers again in 2012 and 2013.
Last year, Wright regressed again. However, last year it was a shoulder injury and not a back injury. This year it was discovered that Wright has spinal stenosis. We don’t know if it’s related to the 2010 injury.
What I do know is that Wright and Mattingly are two different players. We have seen that Wright once overcame a back injury, a different back injury, to return to superstar form. Mattingly never did. So yes, both are popular New York corner infielders. Both have back injuries.
However, they are two different players with two different back injuries. We shouldn’t be comparing them to determine how the rest of Wright’s career is going to proceed. Wright is a different player and person.
I’m nervous about Wright, but after 2012 and 2013, I won’t bet against him.