David Wright: Suddenly not crazy anymore

Wright’s got a lot of Derek Jeter in him, on and off the field, and part of that means he’s not going to reveal very much about himself, for better or for worse…

Wright fielded questions yesterday about his remarkable turnaround at the plate without offering any real insight into how he did it.

“I don’t know if you can really put your finger on it,” he said, and then, in typical Wright fashion, proceeded to link it more to the way the team is playing than himself.

It was admirable, and Jeter would have been proud, but it does leave you wanting more. Did he have demons to fight on balls up and in? Did he have doubts about getting back to the form that has made him an All-Star again? Did all the strikeouts make him crazy?

No, no, and no, said Wright.

- John Harper, N.Y. Daily News.

I don’t have a direct link to Harper’s column. It was in the early edition of the paper and is not online. It’s almost entirely based on conjecture, but to Harper’s credit, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to speculate about the lingering effects of last year’s beaning on Wright early this season.

The most interesting quote in the column is Wright saying, “I don’t care about the strikeouts.” That’s cool, because neither do I. Since this year’s uptick hasn’t prevented him from producing as well as he ever has in the Majors (especially when you adjust for the park), and since even when Wright seemed to be striking out every other at-bat he was still maintaining a respectable on-base percentage, they’re just not that big a deal. Wright will probably finish this season with a career-high strikeout total. It won’t have stopped him from being awesome.

And that’s the thing I think everyone needs to keep in mind when we spend so much time analyzing Wright psychologically and in every other which way. Wright’s going to slump again, he’s going to strike out in some big spots again and he’s going  to get booed again. It’s just part of it. That’s just baseball; these things happen.

But Wright will always come back to being awesome. Wright is a great, great baseball player, probably the best position player the Mets have ever had. It’s not fair (or safe) to call him a Hall of Famer yet, but there’s no doubt he’s on that trajectory. And players of that caliber simply do not roll over in the face of adversity. All the different things that made David Wright this great in the first place will keep him great moving forward.

And since inevitably Wright’s psyche will be assessed from armchairs the next time he struggles — and that will suck — it only seems fair to share a feel-good story about the man while he’s going well. Corny fodder for Wright’s loyal admirers among us:

While the Mets were taking batting practice yesterday, I waited outside their clubhouse with our video producer and intern, prepping to interview Ike Davis for the Baseball Show. Every person that passed commented on the sweltering heat. Players walked by soaked in sweat, looking a bit wilted, conserving energy.

Then came Wright, bouncing down the hall, no worse for the wear. Alongside him was a kid, about 8, wearing a “Make-A-Wish” t-shirt and a Mets hat. The kid looked a bit overwhelmed. Wright looked positively giddy.

“Here’s our indoor batting cage, and here’s our video room,” Wright said, sounding himself like an excited 8-year-old showing his friend his parents’ new home or something. “You wanna see our clubhouse?”

They emerged a few minutes later and proceeded toward the dugout. “You wanna meet some of the players?” Wright asked as they walked down the hall, away from where we were standing. “You know a lot of the players? Who’s your favorite player?”

The kid mumbled something inaudible.

“Well you have to say that,” we heard Wright say before they moved out of our earshot. “Because I’m walking with you!”

We were the only media anywhere close, and no cameras were rolling.

11 thoughts on “David Wright: Suddenly not crazy anymore

  1. Sometimes I think about how little appreciation some Mets fans seem to have for David Wright (or Jose Reyes, or Carlos Beltran, etc.), and it makes me die a little on the inside.

    • This.

      I have to laugh every time I hear people like Benigno or the clowns who call FAN clamoring for Cliff Lee or some other superstar.

      You hate every star the Mets have. Why do you want another one? You’ll just irrationally hate him before long.

  2. Loved the story and thanks for posting it.

    Wright is the face of the franchise, IMO. Something the Mets have been missing for quite a few years.

  3. Not to continue the lovefest for Wright, but he is without a doubt one of the most genuine professional athletes I’ve ever brushed elbows with.

    Back in ’07 I attended a fundraiser that Wright also attended. Somewhere in the middle of a conversation I had with him, we got to talking about my Grandfather, who was a HUGE Mets fan but never had the opportunity to see the Mets play at Shea. Wright responded with “Where’s your Grandpa now?” I informed him my family was hours away from NYC, in which he suggested we call him up and he would say hello. What followed was me standing there listening to David carry on a genuine conversation with a man he had never met. Thank you didn’t seem adequate enough after hearing my grandfather tell this story over and over again :)

    Wright’s emergence as a true leader is no surprise & long overdue. It’s nice to hear another story showing he hasn’t changed much since I had the opportunity to meet him. I think people who haven’t been fortunate enough to see it with their own eyes find it hard to believe , but he is as humble & genuine as the media portrays him to be.

  4. Good stuff. It’s a weird thing though, getting used to “not caring” about strikeouts. Players in little league in high school are taught to put it in play with 2 strikes, and striking out is sort of embarrassing (at least it was for me). Ralph Kiner still talks about how players in his day were embarrassed by striking out. But it’s a different game now, and when you’re OPSing .950 you can’t argue with the results. The only time it occasionally hurts is with the game on the line and a guy on third and less than 2 outs (like that game against Chi in ’08). But it’s probably a pretty small price to pay for D Wright’s career awesomeness.

    • It is pretty hard to not care about the strikeouts in David’s game. When he was striking out 100-110 times a year, it was not fantastic but whatever, he hit .300 25 HRs and drove in plenty of runs, but suddenly when you are looking at that number of empty outs doubling, it is beyond reasonable to be concerned as a fan. This was not Ryan Howard, whom you knew what the deal was, this was a guy who maybe was taking away some number of walks and hits from his game by swings and misses.

      That seems to have corrected itself in June, but I’d still like to see that be the end of the year the total has come back to his mean. If he can keep his year total below 150 considering his atrocious early struggle that would be a huge huge accomplishment. Bottom line when you put the ball in play anything can happen, when you swing and miss who knows. I am not anticipating him getting to Piazza or Gary Carter strikeout levels as a hitter, but I’d be happy to never see him escalate toward Howard territory.

      No question he is a good guy. But Jeff Francouer is a good guy to, and everyone seems to love to point out why he stinks statistically speaking. So numbers wise, it was just as reasonable to be freaked out a bit by what was happening with David Wright.

      • Frenchy’s career best OPS+ for a full season is 102.
        Wright’s career worst OPS+ for a full season is 123.

        Wright’s season low OPS for 2010 was .811. If Frenchy ever OPS’d .811 for a full season, it would be the best single season OPS of his career by 30 points.

        I don’t think that at any point of Wright’s career he’s ever “stinked statistically” enough warrant mentioning his name in the same paragraph as Frenchy.

  5. Play hard, play to win, no excuses. This guy is so easy to root for its almost easy to overlook. I have to stop and remind myself sometimes how lucky I am he’s part of the Mets while I’m around and kicking.

    Plus he’s effectively killed any arguments with the girlfriend about watching the game.

    Its his hard-nosed attitude she loves… I think.

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