Opinion: Why Wright isn’t right?

Maggie Wiggin, Contributor

David Wright is in a bad place at the plate, despite finally getting a few hits in St. Louis on Wednesday. This is no mere slump – he’s 325 plate appearances into a season that is on pace to be the worst of his career by a wide margin. He’s below league average in walk rate, power, and OPS for the first time ever and – as much as the answer may sting – it’s time to start asking why…

Wright has hit as poorly in front of the now-hot Curtis Granderson as he did when Granderson was ice-cold, to say nothing of Wright’s exceptional 2012-2013 performances despite generally weak lineups around him.

“If I start worrying about who is hitting behind me then I overthink my at bat,” Wright told MetsBlog. “If I think a pitcher is going to ‘pitch around me,’ then I won’t be ready for a mistake that the pitcher makes.”

Also, at 31 years old, while he is no longer a lock to be one of the top players in the league year in and year out, he is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career in 2013; and a multi-dimensional hitter like Wright is highly unlikely to crash that quickly.

With both aging and lineup issues only explaining at most a small portion of Wright’s significant decline, what other possible underlying problems can we identify?


David Wright crouches


Wright’s .324 BABIP, though below his .340 career mark, is still quite good and suggests that he hasn’t been a victim of bad luck or good fielding. His line drive rate is still excellent and his pop-up rate is low, so he isn’t getting underneath pitches he should drive.

One difference in Wright’s batted ball stats is that he’s seen a huge decline in his home runs per fly ball rate – from 13% last year (a very respectable rate on par with his career numbers) to 6% this year (a very poor rate and the lowest of his career). This could be due to a combination of decreased strength and bad luck and definitely warrants a closer look by the team.

Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of Wright’s poor season is the unprecedented drop in his walk rate. In 2009, when he forgot how to hit home runs, he still drew walks. In 2011, when he hit .254, while playing through a broken back, he still drew walks. One of the reasons plate discipline is such a desirable skill is that it’s enduring. Wright’s 2014 mark is down 30% from his career rate and showing no signs of improvement. He’s seeing more pitches in the zone and swinging at fewer of them, but not by wide margins.

There’s always the possibility that Wright is pressing, getting less patient out of frustration, but it’s been a problem for the whole season, not a recent development. Ultimately, there’s no good explanation for this problem.

As much as I wish I could answer the question of why Wright isn’t right, I’m convinced looking at all of these factors that there really is no answer. A mix of aging, a bad lineup, frustrations, and bad luck could explain part of a drop of over 200 points in OPS, but certainly not all.

Maybe Wright’s 20/20 vision is more like 20/25 these days; maybe a slight tweak to his weight room routine took just a little strength out of his wrists; maybe wedded bliss is disrupting his sleep cycles; though probably none of these things are true.

Regardless, this team is not built to succeed without an effective David Wright. Here’s hoping they find him soon…




260 comments

He need to stop with that going the other way stuff!!!! Wen he had Carlos Delgado hitting behind him he was more of a pull hitter n he had great numbers..he needs to get a lighter bat too his bat looks like it's a lil to big for his type of swing..mean lighter bat faster hand speed..now don't get me wrong I use to love that guy but ever since he started with that whole trying to go the other way stuff he has sucked!!!! Right handed pull hitter have become great homerun hitters don't believe me look at Jose bautista encarnacion nelson Cruz all guys that people fear n most of they homeruns r to left field..so plz David wake up get a lighter bat n pull ur way back to having 25 30 homerun season..believe me son we need it..

Re Dundant
Re Dundant

The fact that Wright is second most in the majors in errors since 2006 and very close to being first , probably isn't helping his confidence either.

Andrew Boone
Andrew Boone

Bad opinion he was just in a slump. He has hit 2 homruns now in past 3 days(if u count the one he just hit tonight in Miami).

rico
rico

He's wRight tonight!

socagiant
socagiant

He needs to be protected by his pitching staff.  Cain threw up and in again on him and nothing.  No response from his pitchers.  Ojeda spoke about it in postgame.  It appears to me that he doesn't feel comfortable when people are throwing up and in at him.  The only way to stop that is to throw up and in at their pitchers or stars in response.  Opponents will get the message.

eric88
eric88

Wright is a stubborn hitter. He does not make adjustments. Keith has mentioned his surprise that he has not adjusted to the pitchers that go right at him now, no more walks. An aging player going forward who is stubborn to adjust indicates this may be only the beginning of this decline.

Daniel Burnard
Daniel Burnard

Hey can anyone tell me Wrights stats with 2 outs and runners in scoring position?

dabo
dabo

Somehow he needs to get back to hitting line drives.  League average on hard hit line drives is around .600 so if he can do that then he would improve.  I think he is trying to justify his contract and hit more homeruns!

George Komninakis
George Komninakis

with TWO OUTS and risp,  Wright has done this in his career..

2014--.083   (Bartolo colon can do this)
2013- .250
2012-.349  
2011- .250
2010-.236
2009-.200
2008- .247

2007- 200

Career .250  when batting with TWO OUTS and RISP--meaning in the clutch he never comes through.

Jeter-  career is .301
Pujols-   careeer is .304
Cabrera-  career is 321
Longoria  .283
Zimmerman .275
Sandoval   .272
Hanley Ramirez   .271
Votto  .280 

In the clutch, with TWO OUTS and risp,  Wright has been no better than Bruce Boisclair, rafael santana and joe mcewing.   That is not what you want out of your franchise player you are paying 18 million bucks to



bayareafan
bayareafan

There is much deserved maligning of Chris young here His PAs suck, but as a comparison for the ongoing love of DW let me put forth some HR numbers over the past 8 seasons.  2007, 2008 CY 54, DW 63.

2010 DW 29 CY 27.  Since 2010 DW 58 CY 50.  Young's BA has consistently been much lower but there is a strikingly and disturbing similarity to their career trajectories.  They are each 31 years old, but the same readership that understandably wants to jettison CY has no problem with DW earning 20M per year for the rest of this decade.

Shawn Mike Rolli
Shawn Mike Rolli

ice cold beer here - hot triple decker cheese burger and a pickle here

Jim McEnroe
Jim McEnroe

I'm sorry to say it but I think David hasn't been the same since he was hit in the head with the pitch. I believe it was last year? He's been laying off the inside pitch and diving for pitches on the outside he couldn't hit if he swung the whole tree. I hope he gets back to being his old self because he is one of the true gentlemen in the game. and the game and we need him

Pete Nabel
Pete Nabel

a winning player playing for a losing organization must be exhausting

Doubleday
Doubleday

I can even read this mess anymore.  It raises my blood pressure to read, day in and day out about such absolute stupidity, and I'm not going to let it affect my health, anymore.  The Wilpons will do whatever it is they want to, and their henchmen will continue to bumble to the media.  This franchise is embarrassing and sickening, and I'll not let myself get sucked in, any more than I have been.

MetsFan1962
MetsFan1962

DW should go to the tapes and watch what he did when he was having a good game/season. Comparing the good and bad approaches may help him make adjustments to get back to where he was. I doubt age is a factor, he is in his prime years. Isn't Lamar Johnson helping DW out?

Kenneth Meltsner
Kenneth Meltsner

The troubling thing with Wright has been the DEPTH of is recent slumps. This isn't 2-15

territory. This is like 3-40 with no power. Plus he's taking it out to the field as well. It also may be that he needs to be RESTED more than he has been.  Keith will often point-out that he is missing pitches that he used to CRUSH.

Ed Renner
Ed Renner

HERE'S A SUGGESTION....FIX DAVID WRIGHT'S REDICULOUS BATTING APPROACH, WHICH HAS HIS FRONT FOOT PLANTED, LEAVING HIM EXPOSED TO THE OUTSIDE LOW PITCH. YOU MAY ARGUE THAT HE'S BEEN SUCCESSFUL SO FAR. THIS IS TRUE. BUT IT IS BECAUSE HE STILL HAS TREMENDOUS TALENT AND REFLEXES. WHEN HE SLOWS DOWN...AND HE WILL, HE WILL SINK FAST. YOU STEP INTO AN OUTSIDE PITCH, YOU DRIVE THE BALL SOMEWHERE.

David's ass comes out as he tries to reach the low outside pitch. Even if he makes contact...no power.

Marc Seldin
Marc Seldin

Agreed. How can he play with his heart 100% of the time, when it's difficult to be there in the first place? Money or not, it has to be bothering him. On the other hand, a true professional can get past the adversity...

vandelay
vandelay

I don't really have an answer for Wright's issues, but I don't buy it just being an age thing. He's 31 not 38.


Maybe there is some residual psychological effect to being hit in the head at the end of last year.  He is showing some of the same tendencies - bailing on borderline inside pitches, not covering the outside corner - that he did for awhile after he came back from the Cain thing.


Maybe it''s a combo of mechanical and mental issues.  It could've been just him being a bit off to start the year...but then maybe the team's struggles led him to start "pressing" thinking too much or whatever you want to call it and only dug himself deeper into the hole.  I think someone compared it to falling in quicksand...the harder you fight the more trouble you get yourself into.


Maybe there is some kind of injury that we haven't heard about.  I would think if he was hurt we'd have heard about it...or at the very least he would've had more than one day off. But who knows.  Lennon and Toby touched on this a bit in the their Mostly Mets Podcast...he's around his career norms in terms of swinging at pitches out of the zone..so it's not like his plate discipline vanished...but for whatever reason he's not doing nearly as much damage with pitches in the zone. 


Whatever it is, it would be nice if the issue is resolved soon

vandelay
vandelay

In years past (his other down years the first few in Citi) he made too many adjustments and was tinkering too much

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

@George Komninakis  This is like an analysis done with a monkey being handed crayons.  Like batting average is this all telling stat (it most certainly, is not).  His two out, RISP this year is a downright fluke and more of a function of him not getting pitches to hit and not taking his walks in those spots.  Taking a small sample and making it smaller based on things you find meaningful is lame.  You can find something bad about any player if you look hard enough.

eric88
eric88

@George Komninakis Wright is not a pressure player, never was.His numbers in RISP late in games is even worse.

The contract and naming him Captain added 2 more pressure points he didn't need.He's a good player but not a franchise player. 

hankypanky
hankypanky

They all look at tapes. Wright's eyeballs have probably popped out by now.

stage52
stage52

@Ed Renner  The truth is  that David's swing is a little long with and uppercut to boot.  He is late on those outside pitches that he would usually hammer but being late results in a lazy fly ball to right field. He almost jumps out of his cleats at balls up and in and has been chopping at those pitches and usually gets a hopper to 3rd base. He has been late on fast balls right down the middle of the plate too. We all know David does not even swing at any breaking balls now. He has to make that swing more compact to  correct any of the problems he is having now.

rf04
rf04

@mets2death I think the answer is: because he is either the first or second best option on this roster to start there.

Doesn't make anyone (probably including TC) happy, but that's the truth.

jonlga
jonlga

That question has been asked already many times.

Paul Forsell
Paul Forsell

D W would be a franchise guy if he hadn't gotten hit in the skull with 93 .mph. Cheese.

MetsFan1962
MetsFan1962

@stage52 . . I agree, DW's swing is too long and he is swinging for the fences. He need to relax . . level the bat . . swing, and let it rip.

MetsFan1962
MetsFan1962

@rf04 @mets2death When 5 of the 9 players in the line-up are 6 or 7 spot hitters they are not going to produce much at the top of the batting order.

nwmets
nwmets

@mets2death If that's what you expected, why did you ask? Don't throw a tantrum just because Terry hasn't answered your question personally.

MetsFan1962
MetsFan1962

@mets2death . . TC is hoping to get the 2012 version of Tejada. He had both offense and defense that year.

rf04
rf04

@mets2death I think I agree. He is still young, though. He may become an average hitter some day, but it doesn't help him develop to have ZERO point ZERO protection in this lineup.

jonlga
jonlga

Not a logical explanation for you. Most others though it is.

rf04
rf04

@mets2death I'm saying I agree about starting Flores, but Tejada could still end up being the better of the 2. Flores needs a few extended months of every day playing time at the MLB level to show what he's got, but the ship hasn't completely sailed on Reuben being an ok player in this league. I don't love either, but Tejada has been given chances in his career, and Flores still hasn't.

jonlga
jonlga

You don't want any answer other than not playing him. Nothing else matters to you. You want logic, here's some....

Tejada has a .420 OBP against righties and is hitting .275 against them.

Wheeler gives up three times more ground balls than fly balls so defense helps at short.

Flores is not considered a good fielding shortstop so they're going with defense.

Anything more?

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

@rf04 @mets2death Tejeda is at best a 280-5 50 rbi guy with the bat and better defense than Flores but..Flores has much more potential with the bat than Tejeda ever will ..has Tejeda ever had a 80 rbi season in the minors?  Flores 4 times 75 or more rbis in  minor league season... 86 last yr in AAA. Why not put Flores at 1st? probably will become a better hitter than Duda.

jonlga
jonlga

No reply? From someone who demanded a reply? Of course.

You were given answers as to why he's playing but they didn't suit you so you ignored them. And you'll ask that same thing again.

hankypanky
hankypanky

Good answer. Don't waste time with the whiners. They prefer to vent rather than applying reason.

Kenneth Meltsner
Kenneth Meltsner

@jonlga I'm not a big fan of his either but it's not like Flores is tearing it up at the plate.

rf04
rf04

@Albert E Lewis Potential is a killer of managers and franchises. Generation K had a ton of potential. Just like Fernando Martinez and Lastings Milledge. I still agree that I want to see Flores - but he's no sure thing either.

jonlga
jonlga

With Murphy at second do we want marginally better offense or defense?

Flores' OBP is about .250 and his fielding leaves much to be desired.

This franchise has made the playoffs 7 times and in 6 the shortstop didn't need to hit, just field.

socagiant
socagiant

@mets2death regarding Flores....he would have had 2 errors in 1 inning against the Pads, if the Padres actually ran the bases at all correctly.  one guy stopped halfway to first, the other dove out of second base instead of sliding into the bag...

jonlga
jonlga

You asked why is Tejada playing. Those are some of the reasons. But they're not good enough for you, in sure.

jonlga
jonlga

The question is why play Tejada. I gave some answers. I'm not saying they should it should not start him, but just that there are reasons why he is starting.

stage52
stage52

@jonlga  The days of having a SS that does not hit are long gone.  That use to be the norm but the game has changed. Most of your good teams in MLB have good hitting SS now

jonlga
jonlga

They're not logical to you because they're not the answer you want. I've told you why he's playing. If you disagree with that decision then ask why is he playing over Flores. But that's not your question.

Or is that too logical for you?