The New York Mets (21-17) are defying expectations so far in this 2012 season, much the same way as their ancestors did in 1969, but we cannot compare those teams too much because it is a different era. With wild cards and three divisions in each league, Major League Baseball has changed considerably. For the Mets to ever have a shot at the World Series this year, they will have to be ten times more amazing than their 1969 counterparts, and they will need a few miracles as well. Still, for Mets fans there is much to smile about this year, and one of the biggest reasons for this is third baseman David Wright.
To borrow the words of Winston Churchill (who was describing Russia at the time), Wright has often been “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Filled with potential from his first days as a rookie, Wright has managed to delight and confound fans and teammates alike with his skills, his dry spells, and his injuries.
Perhaps he is just a victim of early success, with a solid rookie year in 2004 (in which he hit 14 homers, drove in 40 runs, and hit .293) followed by a fantastic sophomore year (27 homers, 102 RBI, .306 batting average), Wright set the bar high in the expectations department. He would go on to have four 100+ RBI seasons in a row, playing excellent defense at third base, and establishing himself as a leader on the team. He along with Jose Reyes, who also was a rookie in 2004, seemed to be the future of what could be another great Mets team.
Then 2009 and Citi Field happened to Wright, making him look like he lost his stroke (though he hit .307 but with only 10 homers and 72 RBI) and his direction. There was lots of talk about “trade him while you can” and that sort of thing, but I always felt that Wright would get himself straightened out and be the player that showed so much promise early on.
There had also been a debate last year about keeping Reyes and shopping Wright. When I would hear these conversations on talk radio here in New York, I wanted to scream at the announcers. How could you keep Reyes and not keep Wright?
Well, we all know how that turned out now. Reyes is in Miami now and seems happy, and Wright is having a career year. At this time he is hitting .411 with 4 homers and 22 RBI in 35 games. He has an on base percentage of .513 and a slugging percentage of .621. Yes, some have said his home run numbers are down, but look at all the rest of what he is doing. He is leading the way for this young Mets team, and that is one of the main reasons for their early success this season.
That is why I say that owner Fred Wilpon and GM Sandy Alderson have to make two very salient and expedient decisions now: They must extend Wright’s contract and they must name him team captain. Respectively, one shows Wright a vote of confidence and says that the Mets will be built around him for years to come; the other makes official what is already apparent to everyone else. David Wright is not just a leader on this team; he is the leader of this team.
Of course, it is a long season, and many things can happen between now and October, but the time is now to show David Wright some love. The fans love him, his teammates obviously do, and so does his manager Terry Collins. The Mets organization must make these moves now to solidify their relationship with Wright for the long haul. Because when October comes and if the Mets are still in the mix, a happy David Wright will mean a great deal in those games beyond number 162.
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