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Citi Field May Have Cost David Wright A Chance At Cooperstown

With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, and the recent announcement he cannot do any baseball activities for the next eight weeks, we are one step closer to everyone admitting David Wright is never going to ever play for the New York Mets again.  Certainly, the Mets have operated this offseason like it will never happen.  Indeed, if Wright were to be healthy enough to return at any point next season, the team will be forced to cut someone like Jose Reyes, or they will be forced to send someone like Brandon Nimmo, who may very well be the team’s center fielder, to the minors.

As Wright inches towards what seems to be in the inevitable, we get closer and closer to taking stock of his career.  For his career, Wright has 49.9 WAR, 40.0 WAR7, and a 45.0 JAWS.  These numbers fall short of the 67.5 WAR, 42.8 WAR7, and 55.2 JAWS an average Hall of Fame third baseman puts up in their career.

Looking over those numbers again, Wright is tantalizingly close, but falls short.  Right now, there seems to be an overwhelming consensus Wright falls into the Don Mattinglyterritory in that he was a great player when healthy, but ultimately, his health cost him a shot at Cooperstown.

However, upon reviewing Wright’s career, it does not appear his health issues will be the only reason Wright will fall short of Hall of Fame induction.

In the final two seasons at Shea Stadium, Wright emerged as a true superstar.  In successive seasons, he posted an 8.3 and 6.8 WAR season.  With him entering the prime years of his career, it looked like Wright was well on his way to the Hall of Fame.  What ensued was two ugly years at Citi Field.

Over 2009 and 2010, Wright’s offensive numbers would see a precipitous drop across the board.  As a result, in the prime of his career, by WAR, Wright had the two worst healthy seasons of his career.  A player who went from averaging a 7.6 WAR in the final two years at Shea struggled to accumulate a 5.9 WAR over two year.

If you are looking for reasons why this happened, look not further than Citi Field.  In its original form, Citi Field would see no doubt homers died on the edge of the warning track because the park was beyond cavernous:

  • Left Field 335 ft
  • Left Center 384
  • Center 408
  • Right Center 415
  • Right Field 330

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a 16 foot left field wall Harry Rose dubbed “The Great Wall of Flushing.”

Considering Wright was a batter who hit it to all fields and who had natural power to right center field, his new ballpark was completely ill suited to his particular skill set.  It should come as no surprise Wright’s oWAR and overall WAR nosedived.

In 2012, when the outfield walls at Citi Field were brought in and lowered, Wright started putting up Wright-like numbers again.  That year, Wright had a 7.0 WAR, the second highest of his career.  This would also prove to be his last healthy season.

The end of Wright’s peak was 2013.  Astonishingly, Wright had a 5.9 WAR in just 112 games.  Considering the stats he put up, it does make you question what his stats would have looked like in 2009 and 2010 under “normal” conditions.

Taking the last two years at Shea and the first two with the newly constructed Citi Field outfield walls, Wright averaged a 7.0 WAR.  If he were to averaged a 7.0 WAR in 2009 and 2010, his numbers would have been:

WAR 59.1
WAR7 46.8
JAWS 53.0

Yes, Wright would still fall short of the 67.5 WAR an average Hall of Fame third baseman produced over the length of their career, but Wright would have eclipsed the 42.8 WAR7 and been just short of the 55.2 JAWS.  Essentially, with Wright you would have had a real argument to induct him on the strength of his peak years.

Even if you want to be a little more conservative and say he would have averaged 5.9 (his low in 2013) instead of the 7.0 average, he would be at a 55.8 WAR, 44.6 WAR7, and a 50.2 JAWS.

Again, Wright would have had the peak years argument, and with his spinal stenosis, he would have had a tangible Hall of Fame argument.  Certainly, if Kirby Puckett got the benefit of the doubt with him suffering a career ending injury at 35, Wright would have had a case with his injury happening at 32, if not sooner.

In the end, Wright’s career and spinal stenosis has left us with many what ifs.  Looking at the numbers, we should also question what if Citi Field was not so ill designed when it first opened?  Would David Wright have made it to the Hall of Fame.

Based upon a look at the numbers, I would argue he would have been enshrined and deservedly so.  However, because of the original Citi Field dimensions and many other factors, it appears Wright will not make the Hall of Fame, which is a damned shame because Wright certainly deserved better than all of this.

0 thoughts on “Citi Field May Have Cost David Wright A Chance At Cooperstown”

  1. Gothamist says:

    If you have some time:

    I have a few questions for Met fan(atics)
    who have been active since 2003:

    Have you seen a different David Wright before and after he was hit in the head by Matt Cain?

    Irregardless to Cain, after the 2006-2009 years did you ever feel that DW peaked st some point as the Mets lost competitivness you did not know the DW the Mets had and the Mets at some point lost an excellent opportunity to trade DW at a previous higher if not outstanding implied value?

    Did you feel that as the face of the franchise, his wonderful image to the fans and community events at Shea and Citi and that THERE WAS ESSENTIALLY NO ONE ELSE ON THE ROSTER (a void to come) as the franchise moved next door that the team had no choice but to lock DW up at such great contract length and salary?

    Have you ever really looked at his splits, say RISP, performance vs better teams and especially better pitchers, his ABATS when pitchers were rolling over the lineup, playoffs clutch and MOST IMPORTANTLY in each month of his great career and especially innngs six, seventh, eighth and ninth how did DW do in clutch, high pressure and crucial ABATS?

    Obviously, the Mets are not the cross town franchise so we have so few samples in playoffs, end if season stretches say with Boston etc and it may take deep analysis for our memories msy not allow us to decide qualitatively.

    Do you feel you are objective to put yourself in the shoes as being a seasoned NY sports writer to see any MET player objectively in voting on Hall of Fame worthiness?

    I could not be objective in voting on HOF.

    I see Keith Hernandez and Gil Hodges as a HOFer…

    There was a time that I thought DW was a sure HOFer yet I saw too many situational hitting situations after inning six where DW chose to swing with two strikes trying to hit the ball to a Laguardia runway when all the team (who gave it all and left it out on the field) needed was a SF for an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th.

    There are how many votes, how many opinions on voting on the HOF.
    I saw DW as not HOF worthy playing at CF, on the road or playing his while career at Shea.

    Playing in the Bronx or Denver, you never know!

    1. metsdaddy says:

      The Wright not being the same after Cain narrative is just that – narrative.

      He had some big years after that happened, and if not for stenosis and Citi Field, Wright would’ve been a Hall of Famer.

      1. Gothamist says:

        Completely disagree…

        I like your narratives, you creative ability to bring up new topics.
        I thank you..

        Yet if WAR was the overwhelming criteria you might have been right.
        After Cain, I really missed his willingness to get in closer to the plate and drive those outside corner pitches to the opposite field.

        I do not have the time nor access to get you the data.
        ask jonheyman@aol.com he will answer you…
        or Ken Davidoff or I can give you an email address of a retired NYT baseball writer

        If in the lineup with Tino Martinez etc all those Yankee championship years in the old stadium he might have choked up and not hit for the fences yet he never hit like a HOFer almost ever in crunch time even in his approach.

        Young men sure loved him….
        I as a young man would take no crap from anyone who said that LT or Seaver were not HOFers (actually I saw them as transformational)

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Wright was beaned by Cain in 2009.

          The following year he was an All Star who hit .283/.354/.503 with 29 homers and 109 RBI.

  2. Gothamist says:

    I just looked at this stat:

    2008 and 2010

    Clutch : Late and Close

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Those stats fluctuate wildly year to year

  3. Gothamist says:

    If you thought Tebow was taking ABATs from others what about John Franco Jr.?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I never said Tebow was taking at-bats away from anyone.

  4. Gothamist says:

    Mets update:

    Nimmo outfield assist
    Rhame went scoreless
    Many vets rested
    SBs
    Matz struck out five

  5. OldBackstop says:

    In 2009, Wrght had 618 plate appearances, He had .296 PAs at Citi and hit only 5 measly home runs, Perhaps, as you say, due to the fences.
    But in 322 PAs on the road, he also only hit 5 home runs.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Citi Field had a drastic effect on Mets hitters that year.

      They all had to significantly change their approach, and that change in approach carried forward to their road games.

      Also, his rebounding after that completely disproves the Cain theory.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        So Citi kept EVERYBODY out of the Hall of Fame?
        I’m sure park factors would have been considered by HoF voters. Five home runs on the road can’t be blamed on Citi….Wright is not a wilting lily who had a panic attack.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Where did I say Citi Field kept everyone out of the Hall of Fame.

          Also, where did I accuse Wright of being a “wilting lily who had a panic attack?”

          In fact, if memory serves, you were the one who argued that by saying Cain forever changed his career

          1. Old Backstop says:

            The Cain stuff wasn’t me, read back. Never said a word about him.

            Wright hitting five home runs on the road undermines your premise. He hit more every other year, before and after. If you are going to say fences killed his resume, did the fences change on the road?

          2. metsdaddy says:

            Yes, the fences impacted Wright on the road as well. If you recall properly, the Mets spent all of Spring Training trying to tailor their swings to the cavernous Citi Field. This included Jerry Manuel’s insane hitting drills.

            As a batter, you don’t have a home and road swing. It doesn’t work that way.

            Also, it was more than just 2009

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