The Veteran’s Committee inducted six new members to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, and Buck O’Neil. For most of these players, their induction righted a long standing wrong. However, it did something else. It lowered the bar on what is truly a Hall of Fame level player.
Putting aside O’Neil, who spent his career in the Negro Leagues and was inducted for more than just his playing days, and Fowler, who played in the 1800s, the players inducted were not up to the level of what we have seen of recent Hall of Famers. Of course, that’s not really news with players like Harold Baines being inducted three years ago.
This is what the Veteran’s Committee typically does. For every wrong they right, they also proceed to lower the bar on what is and what is not a Hall of Famer. Consider, the WAR/WAR7/JAWS for each of the new inductees:
- Hodges 43.9/33.7/38.8
- Kaat 50.5/38.1/34.4
- Minoso 53.8/39.7/46.7
- Oliva 43.0/38.6/40.8
By standards for each position, each one of these players falls far short. As a result, it does open the door for players who were once seen not Hall of Fame worthy for various reasons. One such player would be David Wright, who would’ve probably been a lock for the Hall of Fame if not for his back injury robbing him the rest of his career.
In his 14 year career, Wright posted a 49.2/39.5/44.3. His WAR would be third highest amongst that group despite his career being far shorter than that group. His WAR7 would be second best and his JAWS second best despite the end of his prime being robbed from him. Just think about that. Wright didn’t get to have a full career, and he still posted better numbers than players who had lengthy and storied careers.
What Wright was able to do in his brief career was remarkable. If he was able to have 1-2 more full seasons, he very likely would have easily cleared the bar for Hall of Fame induction. That goes double when you consider he would have had the benefit of being able to be inducted after spending his entire career with the Mets, and perhaps, some boost from his play in the World Baseball Classic (not all that likely).
In the end, Wright’s career will always be defined by what ifs. What if Jon Niese covered third. What if the Wilpons treated his career with more concern. What if Carlos Beltran doesn’t strike out. What if Terry Collins had a clue in the 2015 World Series. Mostly, what if he stayed healthy.
Whatever the case, based on what we saw with the recent inductions, Wright’s career has now risen to the caliber of Hall of Fame worthy. While it’s likely the writers will overlook him, based on recent standards, we may very well see him inducted by the Veteran’s Committee one day.
When you operate a blog, when you observe everything that happened today at Citi Field, the last thing you want to be is overwhelmed by the moment. But when it comes to David Wright how could you help but be overwhelmed.
As a diehard fan who watches nearly every game, beginning on July 21, 2004 until May 27, 2016, in some, way, shape, or form, Wright was a part of your everyday life.
The hits. The catches. The wins. The losses. Sadly, the injuries.
From February until October, Wright was there. The best thing about my favorite baseball team. The one thing worth loving from a team who did not always deserve the love and respect.
To pick a favorite moment is nearly impossible.
The bare-handed catch in San Diego. Diving into the stands in Seattle. The classic bare-handed play with which he’s become synonymous.
Putting on a show in the Home Run Derby with Paul Lo Duca firing in darts. Homering in his first All Star at-bat. Starting and playing third at the first All Star Game played at Citi Field. Any of his seven All Star appearances.
The 30/30 season. Gold Gloves. Silver Sluggers. Being the first Met to homer at Citi Field.
Homering in his first at-bat back of the DL. The slide in Washington. The RBI single and fist pump in the NLDS. Staring at the World Series logo on his cap at Wrigley Field. The home run:
As much joy as there was, there is a sadness.
The epic 80s type run we all expected never materialized. It wasn’t due to Wright’s lack of trying.
Wright would be the only Met to deliver an RBI in Game 7. In September 2007, he hit .352/.432/.602. In September 2008, he hit .340/.416/.577. He homered off Yordano Ventura. More than any of that, he stayed.
Because he stayed, we watched on as his body failed him. It robbed him not just of a chance to go out there and play, but it was enough to cost him a chance at a ring and possibly much more.
With his body failing, we got to see what made Wright truly great. His integrity, hard work, dedication, and love of baseball were on full display. Make no mistake. Unless Wright possessed all of these qualities, especially the love of baseball, we would not have seen him continuously fight his way back despite the injuries and the surgeries.
If nothing else, Wright earned the opportunity to step back onto the field and end his career on his terms instead of in a trainer’s room. He earned that not just by the rehab and work he put in to return, but because of who he is and what he means to the franchise.
While Wright was thinking of sharing the moment with his daughters, I was thinking of sharing it with my sons. It was important for me to share the moment with them. After all, we’re Mets fans, and as Mets fans we love David Wright.
Certainly, poor Peter O’Brien missed the memo as he caught a Wright foul out in the fourth. For that crime, he will be forever mercilessly (and good-naturedly?) booed every time he returns to Citi Field.
With the foul out, you were left hoping and praying for just one more at-bat. Even an inning in the field. It wasn’t to be as Mickey Callaway made the switch.
Wright left the field to the adoration of Mets fans everywhere. Really, it’s remarkable how loud everyone was as they were all fighting through the tears.
A brilliant career in which he set many records and became arguably the second best player in Mets history was now over, and even with fans having over two years to prepare, none of us were.
We can say it’s time to find a new face of the Mets. It’s possible there will be another captain. But, there will never be another David Wright.
I count myself lucky for watching Wright’s entire career. I cherish the fact I got to share the experience with my father and brother, but also now my sons.
To me, in the end, this is what baseball is all about – the shared experience across generations.
There will be other players and other moments we can all share. Short of a World Series, it’s going to be next to impossible to top David Wright’s career.
In some ways, it’s sad to see that go. In others, there’s joy in having been able to experience it. Mostly, it’s gratitude.
Thank you for everything David Wright. You are loved by Mets fans, and you will never be forgotten.
Congratulations to David Wright on a great career, and from Mets fans everywhere thank you from the bottom of our hearts.