David Wright has experienced many highs and lows throughout his New York Mets career. All the more reason he wants to make good right now.
By William Chase
Captain and New York Mets third baseman David Wright is currently the longest active player for any one team in Major League Baseball. He’s also in his first World Series and making up for lost time.
Officially named the fourth Mets captain in team history in 2013, the Norfolk, Virginia native has seen his share of triumph – homering in his first World Series at-bat in Citi Field – and faced his share of disappointments, including watching his Mets go down in the 2006 National League Championship Series.
At the end of day, and though it seems hard to believe the 32-year-old Wright has already been in the Major Leagues for over a decade, he always seems to carry that youthful smile, and of course that desire to win.
Drafted by the Mets in 2001, Wright has been through some of the typical ups and downs any Major Leaguer may be accustomed to, as well as adversity that not just anyone can relate to.
Called up to the big leagues in July of 2004, and almost immediately, Wright became the Mets’ everyday third baseman, and an instant star in Queens.
In 69 games, and just 263 at-bats, Wright hit .293, 14 home runs and 40 RBI. In 2005 he played in 160 games, hit .306, 27 HR, 102 RBI, hit 42 doubles and stole 17 bases. He led the Mets that year in average, runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, RBI, doubles and was only second to Cliff Floyd in home runs who had 34.
Wright committed 24 errors in 2005, which tied him with Troy Glaus for the most in the Major Leagues by a third baseman.
Though Wright is known for errors at third base throughout his career, he is also known for making star-studded plays in the field. During a game in San Diego in 2005, Wright made what turned out to be voted “This Year in Baseball Play of the Year;” a no-look barehanded stab at a pop-fly fading into the shallow outfield.
Wright’s success in 2006 earned him his first All-Star berth, and his 74 runs driven in before the break broke Mike Piazza’s Mets record of 72 in 2000.
As a team, the 2006 Mets had its best season since 2000 – the last time they made the playoffs and the World Series when they met the New York Yankees in the famed subway series. David Wright was among the new bright stars for the Mets, and both the player and team brought together new excitement to Queens and the Big Apple as a whole.
The success of the Mets meant both they and the Yankees competed for the back page of the New York papers. Both teams won their respective divisions that year, both stringing together 97 victories. The city was electric and the exuberant buzz made for talk of a subway series rematch.
But it was not to be.
The Yankees were eliminated in five to the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series; the Mets were eliminated in heartbreaking fashion of their own in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series to the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Wright had again been the leader in the major offensive categories for New York, finishing top 10 in NL MVP voting. He, however, struggled in his first postseason as he hit just .216 overall for the playoffs, and only .160 for the NLCS (4-25).
Wright once again hit over .300 and over 100 RBI during 2007 and 2008 before a severe power-drought plagued him in 2009. Wright also dealt with injury-adversity for the first time, having been added to the disabled list following a ball to the head and a concussion. The 2009 season also marked the first year of the Mets brand-new and spacious Citi Field, where offense was hard to come by, as his power plummeted to just 10 HR and 72 RBI.
Though his 2010 season was back among his career norm (29 HR, 103 RBI in 157 G), Wright again battled injuries in 2011, as well as a career low batting average of .254 through 102 games.
This has been the narrative of David Wright the last few seasons. Through all the accolades – 7-Time All-Star, 2-Time gold glove award winner, joining the 30-30 club in 2007 – Wright has had a hard time staying on the field.
However, while he’s dealt with injuries through the years, and only been able to play over 134 games once since 2010, David Wright suffered through the worst injury of his career in 2015.
Initially diagnosed with a strained right hamstring after an April 14 stolen base attempt, Wright would later be told he has spinal stenosis — an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal.
A dejected David Wright’s first public comments upon being diagnosed via Marc Craig Newsday:
It’s obviously aggravating for me, frustrating for me. There’s never been a question in my mind that not only am I going to come back but I want to come back sooner rather than later. It’s just a matter of being symptom-free.
Though Wright may have never doubted his return from the injury, it left the Mets and Wright with an uncertain future. How would Wright fare not only upon his return, but as the season wore on? Next season? Would symptoms linger or flare up like a bad concussion?
I’m not sure we can have any assurance at this point that when he comes back it will be incident-free for the rest of the season.
He would finish the 2015 regular season with a .289 avg., five HR, 17 RBI in just 38 games. The Mets as a team caught fire in the wake of their stars’ absence, and Wright was able to get to his first World Series.
In Wright’s first World Series game, his error in the 14th inning ended up leading to the Kansas City Royals go-ahead run to take Game 1 of the series. If there’s anything we’ve learned from David Wright over the years, it’s that he can just as soon be the hero and make up for a bad moment.
Hence, Game 3.
His moment came when he would hit his first World Series home run, also in his first home World Series at-bat in Citi Field.
“This.” Game 3 was Wright’s moment.
Through all the adversity of injuries not just in 2015, but throughout his career. For the missed chance in 2006. For the longest current active player on any team. Even if you’re not a Mets fan, any baseball fan is happy to see Wright deliver in a huge moment. The big stage and in New York.
He not only homered, but knocked in four runs en route to the Mets 9-3 win over Kansas City.
David Wright talked about his Game 3 heroics via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com:
You can’t describe the excitement of hitting the home run, crossing home plate, high-fiving your teammates, and looking up and seeing people going absolutely nuts. It’s one of those memories that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
As the Mets enter Game 5 Sunday night, and having lost Game 4 Saturday night in heartbreaking fashion yet again – the Mets blew a 3-2 8th inning lead – David Wright knows this could be his final game of the season.
Win or lose, he’ll carry the boy-like smile and the desire to win.