David Wright In 2017
At this point, no one should expect anything from David Wright in 2017. He has been limited by the spinal stenosis. He’s going to be further limited by the cervical fusion. He’s going to be limited by the sheer fact that 34 year old players tend to at least be on the beginning of the downside of their careers. Anything, and I mean anything they get from him in 2017 is gravy.
With that said, there are certain things we might be able to see out of Wright during the 2017 season.
For starters, we know that he can still get on base. In fact, he’s still one of the best Mets in terms of his ability to get on base. Over the past two seasons, even with the spinal stenosis, Wright has a .365 OBP. While anything Wright does comes with the caveat he has only played limited playing time, his .365 OBP ranks the best on the Mets over the past two seasons.
We also know Wright can make solid contact. According to Statcast, Wright led all major league batters with “barrels” during the 2016 season. A barrel is defined as “a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. At that speed, balls struck with a launch angle between 26-30 degrees.” With Wright’s ability to barrel a ball effectively, nearly one-half of his 31 hits went for extra bases.
Fortunately, even with his health issues, Wright can still catch up to a good fastball. As we saw in the 2015 World Series, he was able to hit the late Yordano Ventura‘s 96 MPH fastball, which was up in the zone, for a home run. Wright’s ability to not only catch up to the pitch, but also hit it for a home run shows he can change his approach depending on the type of pitcher on the mound.
Simply put, Wright still knows how to hit. Even with his health issues and his aging, Wright is still an effective hitter that can hit anywhere in the lineup. And for as long as Wright remains an effective hitter, he is going to be an asset to this team going forward.
Unfortunately, Wright is also declining in the field. While it is true that single season, especially partial season stats, should not be over-analyzed, Wright’s defensive numbers should not be ignored. Over his past two injury riddled seasons, Wright has averaged a -4.4 UZR with a -10 DRS. Using UZR/150, which estimates what a player’s UZR would be at a certain position over 150 games, Wright’s average UZR/150 over the past two seasons would be -19.5, which would rate among the worse in the major leagues.
This means when the Mets have the lead late in games, the team should probably lift him late in games for defense for either Jose Reyes or Wilmer Flores. This would also have the added benefit of saving him some wear and tear on his body over the course of a full season.
The overriding issue with Wright is he is going to try to do too much out there. There was at least one known incident last year where Wright was not forthright with his manager about his ability to play. Once Terry Collins was tipped off by the training staff of Wright’s physical struggles, he sat him despite Wright’s wanting to play.
More than Wright wanting to play when he shouldn’t, he is trying too hard at times during the games. In the second game of the season, Wright attempted two stolen bases against Salvador Perez of all people. It is important to note these stolen base attempts came on the heels of a complete overreaction by almost everyone to Wright’s going hitless with two strikeouts on Opening Day. Wright’s stolen base attempts that day could be construed as him trying to prove everyone he was still capable of being the David Wright of old. To be fair, it could have been Wright showing his veteran savvy by trying to attempt stolen bases off his former teammate Chris Young, who is notoriously slow to the plate.
When trying to project what Wright can contribute in 2017, the safest bet when it comes to Wright is he is going to miss a number of games next year. The hope is the Mets can manage his condition and prevent him from having to go on the disabled list. Another hope is that if he winds up on the disabled list, it is due to a flare up of one of his conditions as opposed to a worsening of his back or neck. At this point, we don’t know if that is going to happen.
And that is the overriding theme of Wright’s 2017 season. We have no idea what is going to happen. While there is room for optimism, it is skeptical optimism. On the field he has shown he can play when he can play, but he hasn’t played more than 38 games in a season with his condition. Hopefully, he will be able to play in more than 38 games. Hopefully, when he does play, he can be as productive as his past stats indicate.
More than any of that, the hope is he can get a World Series ring before he retires. He’s almost literally given everything he can give to the Mets. With that, he deserves a ring. Hopefully, the Mets will surround him with a team that can win. If they do, the hope is he can contribute to that win.