Sunday, April 19, 2009

The David Wright Mythology

For those who follow the Mets, accepted wisdom has been that third baseman David Wright is, and deserves to be, the face of a successful franchise such as that now ensconced in its new ballpark out at Willet's Point.

I like David Wright--seems like a fine citizen. But I am not really a fan. In fact, I think he is among the most overrated good hitters in baseball.

Taking nothing away from his consistency, his .300 plus average, his 100 plus runs batted in, his 30 homers and his fine fielding, I am trying to remember the last time I saw him come up big in a big situation--or even a sort of big situation. I would have to go back to June 2006 when he drove a ball over Yankee center-fielder Johnny Damon's head to complete a wonderful comeback for the Mets. Since then, he has been a specialist at the tack-on run, the home run in a losing cause, the double with nobody on, the walk that should have been a big hit. . .and on and on (for instance, had he contributed like a gamer down the stretch in either 2007 or 2008, the Mets would have been in the playoffs both times).

I think it all changed for him when he was in the All-Star Game home-run derby back in 06 (at least I think it was that year). After that, something in his character changed. He seemed to think he was "the big star that had to produce" and put mental pressure on himself in such a way as to make him fail in those very situations where he most needed to hit. Before then, he was a really talented, focused kid having a great time. Now he just seems like a guy trying to do the right thing. It's not a character flaw, exactly, but it isn't helping the team win games.

My opinion is that the Mets should trade him. They will probably be able to get anybody they can think of naming, because most people don't know David's little secret. And I think the person they get will be more relaxed, and more clutch than our wonderfully nice but ultimately non-championship third baseman.