David Wright is one of the most respected players in Major League Baseball. A career .297 hitter, the 33-year-old will certainly be in the Hall of Fame discussion once his tenure comes to a close. But unfortunately in the present day – after an injury-plagued 2015 season – things aren’t looking positive for the New York captain.
Wright continues to limit his number of starts (he has played in 27 of the team’s 34 games entering Friday), and a recurring back problem related to his spinal stenosis has now spread to his shoulder, according to the New York Post.
As a result, the third baseman carries a much different approach to the plate as compared to his All-Star caliber campaigns. The patience is still evident, as Wright worked counts to 3-2 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the three games he was active for. In fact, Wright has earned at least one walk in his last 11 games played, and on the season, has a walk rate of 20 percent (third best in MLB).
However, Wright’s offerings at the plate are much different than what we’ve seen in the past.
Let’s start with strikeouts. Wright has never held a K percentage higher than 24 in his previous 12 years in the big leagues. But in 2016, he strikes out 31.2 percent of the time, which ranks 10th most in the game. Wright simply doesn’t have the consistent bat speed he once had before getting the injury bug, with no drive on the ball with his lower half.
In his career, Wright is a .299 hitter against fastballs, but heaters have been his kryptonite this season. Currently, the veteran strikes out more on fastballs (11 times) than any other pitch, and has a 16.23 whiff percentage against them – a career-high.
If there is a glimmer of hope for Wright, it’s his contact rate. Wright has the highest hard contact percentage in baseball at 48.3, which shows how much effort he still has despite the pitfalls. In addition, he’s going opposite field about 38 percent of the game, another career-best, and is the fifth highest mark in the league.
Wright is a warrior, a player who is going to give maximum effort when penciled in the lineup. But at this point in his career, he is the definition of a boom or bust player. While his walks will help the Mets generate baserunners on a regular basis, his swings will continue to be uncharacteristic, muscling through the pain trying to go deep.
As FanGraphs points out, when he does take a swing, he wants to make it count. Another way of expressing a focus on maximization is a focus on efficiency. Wright wants his swings to be selective, efficient, and powerful.