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:
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.